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Allen C. Kuo
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

Shock-capturing numerical methods are employed to integrate the fully nonlinear, rotating 1D shallow-water equations starting from steplike nongeostrophic initial conditions (a Rossby adjustment problem). Such numerical methods allow one to observe the formation of multiple bores during the transient adjustment process as well as their decay due to rotation. It is demonstrated that increasing the rotation and/or the nonlinearity increases the rate of decay. Additionally, the time required for adjustment to be completed and its dependence on nonlinearity is examined; this time is found to be highly measure dependent. Lastly, the final adjusted state of the system is observed through long time integrations. Although the bores that form provide a mechanism for dissipation, their decay results in a final state in very good agreement with the one computed by well-known (dissipationless) conservation methods.

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Paul J. Kushner
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

An exceptionally strong stratospheric sudden warming (SSW) that spontaneously occurs in a very simple stratosphere–troposphere AGCM is discussed. The model is a dry, hydrostatic, primitive equation model without planetary stationary waves. Transient baroclinic wave–wave interaction in the troposphere thus provides the only source of upward-propagating wave activity into the stratosphere. The model’s SSW is grossly similar to the Southern Hemisphere major SSW of 2002: it occurs after weaker warmings “precondition” the polar vortex for breaking, it involves a split of the polar vortex, and it has a downward-propagating signature. These similarities suggest that the Southern Hemisphere SSW of 2002 might itself have been caused by transient baroclinic wave–wave interaction. The simple model used for this study also provides some insight into how often such extreme events might occur. The frequency distribution of SSWs in the model has exponential, as opposed to Gaussian, tails. This suggests that very large amplitude SSWs, though rare, might occur with higher frequency than might be naively expected.

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Andrew J. Charlton
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

Stratospheric sudden warmings are the clearest and strongest manifestation of dynamical coupling in the stratosphere–troposphere system. While many sudden warmings have been individually documented in the literature, this study aims at constructing a comprehensive climatology: all major midwinter warming events are identified and classified, in both the NCEP–NCAR and 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) datasets. To accomplish this a new, objective identification algorithm is developed. This algorithm identifies sudden warmings based on the zonal mean zonal wind at 60°N and 10 hPa, and classifies them into events that do and do not split the stratospheric polar vortex.

Major midwinter stratospheric sudden warmings are found to occur with a frequency of approximately six events per decade, and 46% of warming events lead to a splitting of the stratospheric polar vortex. The dynamics of vortex splitting events is contrasted to that of events where the vortex is merely displaced off the pole. In the stratosphere, the two types of events are found to be dynamically distinct: vortex splitting events occur after a clear preconditioning of the polar vortex, and their influence on middle-stratospheric temperatures lasts for up to 20 days longer than vortex displacement events. In contrast, the influence of sudden warmings on the tropospheric state is found to be largely insensitive to the event type.

Finally, a table of dynamical benchmarks for major stratospheric sudden warming events is compiled. These benchmarks are used in a companion study to evaluate current numerical model simulations of the stratosphere.

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Paul J. Kushner
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

The seasonal time dependence of the tropospheric circulation response to polar stratospheric cooling in a simple atmospheric general circulation model is investigated. When the model is run without a seasonal cycle, polar stratospheric cooling induces a positive annular-mode response in the troposphere that takes a remarkably long time—several hundred days—to fully equilibrate. One is thus led to ask whether the tropospheric response would survive in the presence of a seasonal cycle. When a seasonal cycle is introduced into the model stratosphere, the tropospheric response appears with a distinct time lag with respect to the stratospheric cooling, but, in the long-term mean, the pattern of the wind response is very similar to the one that results from stratospheric forcing in the absence of a seasonal cycle.

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Lorenzo M. Polvani
and
Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

It has recently been shown that extreme stratospheric events (ESEs) are followed by surface weather anomalies (for up to 60 days), suggesting that stratospheric variability might be used to extend weather prediction beyond current time scales. In this paper, attention is drawn away from the stratosphere to demonstrate that the originating point of ESEs is located in the troposphere. First, it is shown that anomalously strong eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa nearly always precede weak vortex events, and conversely, anomalously weak eddy heat fluxes precede strong vortex events, consistent with wave–mean flow interaction theory. This finding clarifies the dynamical nature of ESEs and suggests that a major source of stratospheric variability (and thus predictability) is located in the troposphere below and not in the stratosphere itself. Second, it is shown that the daily time series of eddy heat flux found at 100 hPa and integrated over the prior 40 days, exhibit a remarkably high anticorrelation (−0.8) with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index at 10 hPa. Following Baldwin and Dunkerton, it is then demonstrated that events with anomalously strong (weak) integrated eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa are followed by anomalously large (small) surface values of the AO index up to 60 days following each event. This suggests that the stratosphere is unlikely to be the dominant source of the anomalous surface weather regimes discussed in Thompson et al.

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Paul J. Kushner
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

The extratropical circulation response to cooling of the polar-winter stratosphere in a simple AGCM is investigated. The AGCM is a dry hydrostatic primitive equation model with zonally symmetric boundary conditions and analytically specified physics. It is found that, as the polar-winter stratosphere is cooled, the tropospheric jet shifts poleward. This response projects almost entirely and positively (by convention) onto the AGCM's annular mode. At the same time, the vertical flux of wave activity from the troposphere to the stratosphere is reduced and the meridional flux of wave activity from high to low latitudes is increased. Thus, as the stratosphere is cooled, the stratospheric wave drag is reduced.

In order to understand this response, the transient adjustment of the stratosphere–troposphere system is investigated using an ensemble of “switch on” stratospheric cooling runs of the AGCM. The response to the switch-on stratospheric cooling descends from the upper stratosphere into the troposphere on a time scale that matches simple downward-control theory estimates.

The downward-control analysis is pursued with a zonally symmetric model that uses as input the thermal and eddy-driving terms from the eddying AGCM. With this model, the contributions to the response from the thermal and eddy-driving perturbations can be investigated separately, in the absence of eddy feedbacks. It is found that the stratospheric thermal perturbation, in the absence of such feedbacks, induces a response that is confined to the stratosphere. The stratospheric eddy-driving perturbation, on the other hand, induces a response that penetrates into the midtroposphere but does not account, in the zonally symmetric model, for the tropospheric jet shift. Furthermore, the tropospheric eddy-driving perturbation, in the zonally symmetric model, induces a strong upward response in the stratospheric winds. From these experiments and from additional experiments with the eddying AGCM, it is concluded that the stratospheric eddy-driving response induces a tropospheric response, but that the full circulation response results from a two-way coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere.

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Sarah M. Kang
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

A strong correlation between the latitudes of the eddy-driven jet and of the Hadley cell edge, on interannual time scales, is found to exist during austral summer, in both the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis and the models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 3 (CMIP3). In addition, a universal ratio close to 1:2 characterizes the robust connection between these two latitudes on a year-to-year basis: for a 2° shift of the eddy-driven jet, the edge of the Hadley cell shifts by 1°. This 1:2 interannual ratio remains the same in response to climate change, even though the values of the two latitudes increase. The corresponding trends are also highly correlated; in the CMIP3 scenario integrations, however, no universal ratio appears to exist connecting these long-term trends. In austral winter and in the Northern Hemisphere, no strong interannual correlations are found.

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Elizabeth A. Barnes
and
Lorenzo Polvani

Abstract

This work documents how the midlatitude, eddy-driven jets respond to climate change using model output from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The authors consider separately the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, and the Southern Hemisphere jets. The analysis is not limited to annual-mean changes in the latitude and speed of the jets, but also explores how the variability of each jet changes with increased greenhouse gases.

All jets are found to migrate poleward with climate change: the Southern Hemisphere jet shifts poleward by 2° of latitude between the historical period and the end of the twenty-first century in the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario, whereas both Northern Hemisphere jets shift by only 1°. In addition, the speed of the Southern Hemisphere jet is found to increase markedly (by 1.2 m s−1 between 850 and 700 hPa), while the speed remains nearly constant for both jets in the Northern Hemisphere.

More importantly, it is found that the patterns of jet variability are a strong function of the jet position in all three sectors of the globe, and as the jets shift poleward the patterns of variability change. Specifically, for the Southern Hemisphere and the North Atlantic jets, the variability becomes less of a north–south wobbling and more of a pulsing (i.e., variation in jet speed). In contrast, for the North Pacific jet, the variability becomes less of a pulsing and more of a north–south wobbling. These different responses can be understood in terms of Rossby wave breaking, allowing the authors to explain most of the projected jet changes within a single dynamical framework.

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Kevin M. Grise
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

This study quantifies cloud–radiative anomalies associated with interannual variability in the latitude of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) midlatitude eddy-driven jet, in 20 global climate models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Two distinct model types are found. In the first class of models (type I models), total cloud fraction is reduced at SH midlatitudes as the jet moves poleward, contributing to enhanced shortwave radiative warming. In the second class of models (type II models), this dynamically induced cloud radiative warming effect is largely absent. Type I and type II models have distinct deficiencies in their representation of observed Southern Ocean clouds, but comparison with two independent satellite datasets indicates that the cloud–dynamics behavior of type II models is more realistic.

Because the SH midlatitude jet shifts poleward in response to CO2 forcing, the cloud–dynamics biases uncovered from interannual variability are directly relevant for climate change projections. In CMIP5 model experiments with abruptly quadrupled atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the global-mean surface temperature initially warms more in type I models, even though their equilibrium climate sensitivity is not significantly larger. In type I models, this larger initial warming is linked to the rapid adjustment of the circulation and clouds to CO2 forcing in the SH, where a nearly instantaneous poleward shift of the midlatitude jet is accompanied by a reduction in the reflection of solar radiation by clouds. In type II models, the SH jet also shifts rapidly poleward with CO2 quadrupling, but it is not accompanied by cloud radiative warming anomalies, resulting in a smaller initial global-mean surface temperature warming.

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Yutian Wu
and
Lorenzo M. Polvani

Abstract

Analysis of model output from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) reveals that, in the zonal mean, the near-term projections of summertime changes of precipitation in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) subtropics are very widely scattered among the models. As a consequence, over the next 50 years, the CMIP5 multimodel mean projects no statistically significant trends in the SH subtropics in summer. This appears to be at odds with the widely reported, and robust, poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zones by the end of the twenty-first century.

This discrepancy between the shorter- and longer-term projections in SH summer, as shown here, rests in the recovery of the ozone hole in the coming decades, as a consequence of the Montreal Protocol. This is explicitly demonstrated by analyzing model experiments with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, version 4 (WACCM4), a high-top model with interactive stratospheric chemistry, and coupled to land, ocean, and sea ice components. Contrasting WACCM4 integrations of the representative concentration pathway 4.5 with and without trends in surface concentrations of ozone-depleting substances allows for demonstrating that stratospheric ozone recovery will largely offset the induced “wet gets wetter and dry gets drier” projections and the accompanying poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone in the SH. The lack of near-term statistically significant zonal-mean changes in the SH hydrological cycle during summer is of obvious practical importance for many parts of the world, and it might also have implications for the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic continent.

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