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David W. J. Thompson and Susan Solomon

Abstract

The long-term, global-mean cooling of the lower stratosphere stems from two downward steps in temperature, both of which are coincident with the cessation of transient warming after the volcanic eruptions of El Chichón and Mount Pinatubo. Previous attribution studies reveal that the long-term cooling is linked to ozone trends, and modeling studies driven by a range of known forcings suggest that the steps reflect the superposition of the long-term cooling with transient variability in upwelling longwave radiation from the troposphere. However, the long-term cooling of the lower stratosphere is evident at all latitudes despite the fact that chemical ozone losses are thought to be greatest at middle and polar latitudes. Further, the ozone concentrations used in such studies are based on either 1) smooth mathematical functions fit to sparsely sampled observations that are unavailable during postvolcanic periods or 2) calculations by a coupled chemistry–climate model.

Here the authors provide observational analyses that yield new insight into three key aspects of recent stratospheric climate change. First, evidence is provided that shows the unusual steplike behavior of global-mean stratospheric temperatures is dependent not only upon the trend but also on the temporal variability in global-mean ozone immediately following volcanic eruptions. Second, the authors argue that the warming/cooling pattern in global-mean temperatures following major volcanic eruptions is consistent with the competing radiative and chemical effects of volcanic eruptions on stratospheric temperature and ozone. Third, it is revealed that the contrasting latitudinal structures of recent stratospheric temperature and ozone trends are consistent with large-scale increases in the stratospheric overturning Brewer–Dobson circulation.

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David W. J. Thompson and Susan Solomon

Abstract

The global structure of recent stratospheric climate trends is examined in radiosonde data. In contrast to conclusions published in previous assessments of stratospheric temperature trends, it is demonstrated that in the annual mean the tropical stratosphere has cooled substantially over the past few decades. The cooling of the tropical stratosphere is apparent in both nighttime and adjusted radiosonde data, and seems to be robust to changes in radiosonde instrumentation. The meridional structure of the annual-mean stratospheric trends is not consistent with our current understanding of radiative transfer and constituent trends but is consistent with increased upwelling in the tropical stratosphere.

The annual-mean cooling of the tropical stratosphere is juxtaposed against seasonally varying trends in the extratropical stratosphere dominated by the well-known springtime cooling at polar latitudes. The polar stratospheric trends are accompanied by similarly signed trends at tropospheric levels in the Southern Hemisphere but not in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Diane J. Ivy, Susan Solomon, and David W. J. Thompson

Abstract

Dynamical coupling between the stratospheric and tropospheric circumpolar circulations in the Arctic has been widely documented on month-to-month and interannual time scales, but not on longer time scales. In the Antarctic, both short- and long-term coupling extending from the stratosphere to the surface has been identified. In this study, changes in Arctic temperature, geopotential height, and ozone observed since the satellite era began in 1979 are examined, comparing dynamically quiescent years in which major sudden stratospheric warmings did not occur to all years. It is shown that this approach clarifies the behavior for years without major warmings and that dynamically quiescent years are marked by a strengthening of the Arctic polar vortex over the past 30 years. The associated declines in stratospheric temperatures, geopotential height, and ozone are qualitatively similar to those obtained in the Antarctic (albeit weaker), and propagate downward into the Arctic lowermost stratosphere during late winter and early spring. In sharp contrast to the Antarctic, the strengthening of the Arctic stratospheric vortex appears to originate at a higher altitude, and the propagation to the Arctic troposphere is both very limited and confined to the uppermost troposphere, even when only dynamically quiescent years are considered in the analysis.

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David L. Solomon, Kenneth P. Bowman, and Cameron R. Homeyer

Abstract

A new method that combines radar reflectivities from individual Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRAD) into a three-dimensional composite with high horizontal and vertical resolution is used to estimate storm-top altitudes for the continental United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Echo-top altitudes are compared with the altitude of the lapse-rate tropopause calculated from the ERA-Interim reanalysis and radiosondes. To sample the diurnal and annual cycles, tropopause-penetrating convection is analyzed at 3-h intervals throughout 2004. Overshooting convection is most common in the north-central part of the United States (the high plains). There is a pronounced seasonal cycle; the majority of overshooting systems occur during the warm season (March–August). There is also a strong diurnal cycle, with maximum overshooting occurring near 0000 UTC. The overshooting volume decreases rapidly with height above the tropopause. Radiosonde observations are used to evaluate the quality of the reanalysis tropopause altitudes and the dependence of overshooting depth on environmental characteristics. The radar–radiosonde comparison reveals that overshooting is deeper in double-tropopause environments and increases as the stability of the lower stratosphere decreases.

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David W. J. Thompson, Mark P. Baldwin, and Susan Solomon

Abstract

This study examines the temporal evolution of the tropospheric circulation following large-amplitude variations in the strength of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratospheric polar vortex in data from 1979 to 2001 and following the SH sudden stratospheric warming of 2002. In both cases, anomalies in the strength of the SH stratospheric polar vortex precede similarly signed anomalies in the tropospheric circulation that persist for more than 2 months. The SH tropospheric circulation anomalies reflect a bias in the polarity of the SH annular mode (SAM), a large-scale pattern of climate variability characterized by fluctuations in the strength of the SH circumpolar flow. Consistent with the climate impacts of the SAM, variations in the stratospheric polar vortex are also followed by coherent changes in surface temperatures throughout much of Antarctica. The results add to a growing body of evidence that suggests that stratospheric variability plays an important role in driving climate variability at Earth’s surface on a range of time scales.

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Mallie Toth, Erin Jones, Dustin Pittman, and David Solomon

The growth of the wind industry in recent years has motivated investigation into wind farm interference with the operation of the nationwide Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network. Observations of a wind farm were taken with a Doppler on Wheels (DOW) during the DOW Radar Observations at Purdue Study (DROPS), a largely studentled field program that took place in the fall of 2009. The DOW sampled clear-air weather and precipitation at locations within 5 km of the Benton County, Indiana, wind farm to determine the wind turbines' effect on Doppler velocity and ref lectivity data. These data were analyzed and compared with data from the Indianapolis WSR-88D (KIND) and a local television station (WLFI) radar. In precipitation, the DOW data show velocity couplets that have the appearance of isolated tornadic vortices. Under clear-air sampling, significant multipath scattering is evident, but no velocity couplets would meet the DOW-equivalent tornado detection algorithm criteria. Broader impacts of these findings are discussed, and suggestions are made for additional studies that would explore how to mitigate these impacts.

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Justin Bandoro, Susan Solomon, Aaron Donohoe, David W. J. Thompson, and Benjamin D. Santer

Abstract

Over the past three decades, Antarctic surface climate has undergone pronounced changes. Many of these changes have been linked to stratospheric ozone depletion. Here linkages between Antarctic ozone loss, the accompanying circulation changes, and summertime Southern Hemisphere (SH) midlatitude surface temperatures are explored. Long-term surface climate changes associated with ozone-driven changes in the southern annular mode (SAM) at SH midlatitudes in summer are not annular in appearance owing to differences in regional circulation and precipitation impacts. Both station and reanalysis data indicate a trend toward cooler summer temperatures over southeast and south-central Australia and inland areas of the southern tip of Africa. It is also found that since the onset of the ozone hole, there have been significant shifts in the distributions of both the seasonal mean and daily maximum summertime temperatures in the SH midlatitude regions between high and low ozone years. Unusually hot summer extremes are associated with anomalously high ozone in the previous November, including the recent very hot austral summer of 2012/13. If the relationship found in the past three decades continues to hold, the level of late springtime ozone over Antarctica has the potential to be part of a useful predictor set for the following summer’s conditions. The results herein suggest that skillful predictions may be feasible for both the mean seasonal temperature and the frequency of extreme hot events in some SH midlatitude regions of Australia, Africa, and South America.

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David Ferreira, John Marshall, Cecilia M. Bitz, Susan Solomon, and Alan Plumb

Abstract

The response of the Southern Ocean to a repeating seasonal cycle of ozone loss is studied in two coupled climate models and is found to comprise both fast and slow processes. The fast response is similar to the interannual signature of the southern annular mode (SAM) on sea surface temperature (SST), onto which the ozone hole forcing projects in the summer. It comprises enhanced northward Ekman drift, inducing negative summertime SST anomalies around Antarctica, earlier sea ice freeze-up the following winter, and northward expansion of the sea ice edge year-round. The enhanced northward Ekman drift, however, results in upwelling of warm waters from below the mixed layer in the region of seasonal sea ice. With sustained bursts of westerly winds induced by ozone hole depletion, this warming from below eventually dominates over the cooling from anomalous Ekman drift. The resulting slow time-scale response (years to decades) leads to warming of SSTs around Antarctica and ultimately a reduction in sea ice cover year-round. This two-time-scale behavior—rapid cooling followed by slow but persistent warming—is found in the two coupled models analyzed: one with an idealized geometry and the other with a complex global climate model with realistic geometry. Processes that control the time scale of the transition from cooling to warming and their uncertainties are described. Finally the implications of these results are discussed for rationalizing previous studies of the effect of the ozone hole on SST and sea ice extent.

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Simchan Yook, David W. J. Thompson, Susan Solomon, and Seo-Yeon Kim

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to quantify the effects of coupled chemistry–climate interactions on the amplitude and structure of stratospheric temperature variability. To do so, the authors examine two simulations run on version 4 of the Whole Atmosphere Coupled Climate Model (WACCM): a “free-running” simulation that includes fully coupled chemistry–climate interactions and a “specified chemistry” version of the model forced with prescribed climatological-mean chemical composition. The results indicate that the inclusion of coupled chemistry–climate interactions increases the internal variability of temperature by a factor of ~2 in the lower tropical stratosphere and—to a lesser extent—in the Southern Hemisphere polar stratosphere. The increased temperature variability in the lower tropical stratosphere is associated with dynamically driven ozone–temperature feedbacks that are only included in the coupled chemistry simulation. The results highlight the fundamental role of two-way feedbacks between the atmospheric circulation and chemistry in driving climate variability in the lower stratosphere.

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Paul J. Young, David W. J. Thompson, Karen H. Rosenlof, Susan Solomon, and Jean-François Lamarque

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that lower-stratosphere temperatures display a near-perfect cancellation between tropical and extratropical latitudes on both annual and interannual time scales. The out-of-phase relationship between tropical and high-latitude lower-stratospheric temperatures is a consequence of variability in the strength of the Brewer–Dobson circulation (BDC). In this study, the signal of the BDC in stratospheric temperature variability is examined throughout the depth of the stratosphere using data from the Stratospheric Sounding Unit (SSU).

While the BDC has a seemingly modest signal in the annual cycle in zonal-mean temperatures in the mid- and upper stratosphere, it has a pronounced signal in the month-to-month and interannual variability. Tropical and extratropical temperatures are significantly negatively correlated in all SSU channels on interannual time scales, suggesting that variations in wave driving are a major factor controlling global-scale temperature variability not only in the lower stratosphere (as shown in previous studies), but also in the mid- and upper stratosphere. The out-of-phase relationship between tropical and high latitudes peaks at all levels during the cold-season months: December–March in the Northern Hemisphere and July–October in the Southern Hemisphere. In the upper stratosphere, the out-of-phase relationship with high-latitude temperatures extends beyond the tropics and well into the extratropics of the opposite hemisphere.

The seasonal cycle in stratospheric temperatures follows the annual march of insolation at all levels and latitudes except in the mid- to upper tropical stratosphere, where it is dominated by the semiannual oscillation. Mid- to upper-stratospheric temperatures also exhibit a distinct but small semiannual cycle at extratropical latitudes.

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