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Paul A. Newman and John L. Stanford

Abstract

Short-meridional scale anomalies (SMSA) in the lower stratospheric temperature field have been discovered in the analyses of Microwave Sounding Unit channel 4 data. In this paper, we investigate the time scales of these features, their presence in the u-wind, v-wind, and geopotential, and the heat and momentum fluxes resulting from the SMSA.

The SMSA are not regularly propagating features. Latitudinal movement occurs in both northern and southern directions. Both eastward movement and stationarity are observed in the zonal direction. The anomalies are episodic, with an episode lasting from 1 to 3 weeks. They require a few days to grow, persist from a few days to two weeks, and then decay over a period of a few days. In addition to the temperature structure, SMSA are found in the zonal wind, meridional wind, and geopotential heights. The SMSA heat fluxes are small. The SMSA momentum fluxes, both the self momentum flux and that caused by interaction with other scales, are found to be substantial. The meridional gradient of these momentum fluxes constitutes an appreciable acceleration of the zonal mean wind.

Finally, it is suggested that the SMSA are possibly caused by secondary effects of baroclinic disturbances.

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Paul A. Newman and John L. Stanford

Abstract

Puzzling short-meridional-scale perturbations of the lower stratospheric temperature field have recently been observed by Stanford and Short in analyses of satellite microwave radiance data. In this paper, we present corroborating evidence from rawinsonde, National Meteorological Center and European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting analyses which confirm that the satellite-observed anomalies are atmospheric in origin, rather than some peculiarity in the data-gathering system. While data filtering is conveniently used for display purpose, it is shown that the anomalies unambiguously exist in unaltered data of several types. We also present results from further investigations utilizing a number of satellite microwave and infrared channels which more completely specify the character of this unusual phenomenon. In particular, it is shown that the temperature anomalies 1) clearly exist daily over large geographical regions in both summer hemisphere 2) exhibit a 180° phase change in the perturbation temperature structure between the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere and 3) are not apparent in the middle and upper stratosphere. In addition, the anomalies exhibit considerable scale anisotropy: over 45–50°N latitudes, individual anomaly peaks can be continuously traced over zonal dimensions of 5000–10 000 km, whereas their meridional scale is 1000–2000 km.

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Paul A. Newman and Eric R. Nash

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The Southern Hemisphere (SH) stratospheric winter of 2002 was the most unusual winter yet observed in the SH climate record. Temperatures near the edge of the Antarctic polar vortex were considerably warmer than normal over the entire course of the winter. The polar night jet was considerably weaker than normal and was displaced more poleward than has been observed in previous winters. These record high temperatures and weak jet resulted from a series of wave events that took place over the course of the winter. The propagation of these wave events from the troposphere is diagnosed from time series of Eliassen–Palm flux vectors and autoregression time series. Strong levels of planetary waves were observed in the midlatitude lower troposphere. The combinations of strong tropospheric waves with a low index of refraction at the tropopause resulted in the large stratospheric wave forcing. The wave events tended to occur irregularly over the course of the winter, and the cumulative effect of these waves was to precondition the polar night jet for the extremely large wave event of 22 September. This large wave event resulted in the first ever observed major stratospheric warming in the SH and split the Antarctic ozone hole. The combined effect of all of the 2002 winter wave events resulted in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1988. The sequence of stratospheric wave events was also found to be strongly associated with unusually strong levels of wave 1 in the SH tropospheric subtropics.

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Scott A. Braun, Paul A. Newman, and Gerald M. Heymsfield

Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) investigation was a multiyear field campaign designed to improve understanding of the physical processes that control hurricane formation and intensity change, specifically the relative roles of environmental and inner-core processes. Funded as part of NASA’s Earth Venture program, HS3 conducted 5-week campaigns during the hurricane seasons of 2012–14 using the NASA Global Hawk aircraft, along with a second Global Hawk in 2013 and a WB-57f aircraft in 2014. Flying from a base at Wallops Island, Virginia, the Global Hawk could be on station over storms for up to 18 h off the East Coast of the United States and up to about 6 h off the western coast of Africa. Over the 3 years, HS3 flew 21 missions over nine named storms, along with flights over two nondeveloping systems and several Saharan air layer (SAL) outbreaks. This article summarizes the HS3 experiment, the missions flown, and some preliminary findings related to the rapid intensification and outflow structure of Hurricane Edouard (2014) and the interaction of Hurricane Nadine (2012) with the SAL.

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Clara Orbe, Darryn W. Waugh, Paul A. Newman, and Stephen Steenrod

Abstract

The distribution of transit times from the Northern Hemisphere (NH) midlatitude surface is a fundamental property of tropospheric transport. Here, the authors present an analysis of the transit-time distribution (TTD) since air last contacted the NH midlatitude surface, as simulated by the NASA Global Modeling Initiative Chemistry Transport Model. Throughout the troposphere, the TTD is characterized by young modes and long tails. This results in mean transit times or “mean ages” Γ that are significantly larger than their corresponding modal transit times or “modal ages” τ mode, especially in the NH, where Γ ≈ 0.5 yr, while τ mode < 20 days. In addition, the shape of the TTD changes throughout the troposphere as the ratio of the spectral width Δ—the second temporal moment of the TTD—to the mean age decreases sharply in the NH from ~2.5 at NH high latitudes to ~0.7 in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Decreases in Δ/Γ in the SH reflect a narrowing of the TTD relative to its mean and physically correspond to changes in the contributions of fast transport paths relative to slow eddy-diffusive recirculations. It is shown that fast transport paths control the patterns and seasonal cycles of idealized 5- and 50-day loss tracers in the Arctic and the tropics, respectively. The relationship between different TTD time scales and the idealized loss tracers, therefore, is conditional on the shape of the TTD.

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Richard S. Stolarski, Richard D. McPeters, and Paul A. Newman

Abstract

Since its discovery in 1985, the ozone hole has been regularly mapped using the data from Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instruments on several satellites. The current TOMS, on the Earth Probe satellite, has been taking measurements since 1996. The ozone hole first appeared during the 1980s. Since 1990, the hole has consistently developed during each Antarctic spring over a broad area with the minimum total ozone value reaching about 100 Dobson units (DU; 1 DU = 2.69 × 1016 molecules cm−2) in late September or early October. The year 2002 was markedly different from the past 12 years. A series of strong wave events weakened the South Polar vortex. In late September, a major stratospheric warming took place, reversing the direction of the polar flow and the latitudinal temperature gradient. This warming resulted in a division of the ozone hole into two pieces, one that migrated to lower latitudes and disappeared and one that reformed over the Pole in a weakened form. The development of this year’s unusual ozone hole is shown here and is contrasted to a climatology of the years since 1990. Minimum daily values of total ozone barely reached 150 DU in contrast to values nearer to 100. The area of the ozone hole briefly reached 18 × 106 km2, then dropped rapidly to only 2 × 106 km2, and finally recovered to about 8 × 106 km2 before disappearing in early November. The positive anomaly compared with the last 12 yr near the Pole was accompanied by a smaller negative anomaly north of 45°S.

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Lawrence Coy, Richard B. Rood, and Paul A. Newman

Abstract

Winds derived from a stratospheric and tropospheric data assimilation system (STRATAN) are compared with balance winds derived from National Meteorological Center/Climate Analysis Center (NMC/CAC) heights. At middle latitudes in the lower stratosphere, the results show that STRATAN winds are comparable to the balance winds. In addition STRATAN winds provide useful horizontal divergence analyses, and hence, vertical velocity fields. More generally, the STRATAN winds are useful in a more extended domain than the balanced winds. In particular, they are useful in the Tropics and the upper stratosphere where the balanced winds fail. The assimilation also captures the quasi-biennial oscillation, but does not do a good job of representing tropical waves.

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Paul A. Newman, Eric R. Nash, and Howard Roscoe
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Andrew J. Newman, Paul A. Kucera, and Larry F. Bliven

Abstract

Herein the authors introduce the Snowflake Video Imager (SVI), which is a new instrument for characterizing frozen precipitation. An SVI utilizes a video camera with sufficient frame rate, pixels, and shutter speed to record thousands of snowflake images. The camera housing and lighting produce little airflow distortion, so SVI data are quite representative of natural conditions, which is important for volumetric data products such as snowflake size distributions. Long-duration, unattended operation of an SVI is feasible because datalogging software provides data compression and the hardware can operate for months in harsh winter conditions. Details of SVI hardware and field operation are given. Snowflake size distributions (SSDs) from a storm near Boulder, Colorado, are computed. An SVI is an imaging system, so SVI data can be utilized to compute diverse data products for various applications. In this paper, the authors present visualizations of frozen particles (i.e., snowflake aggregates as well as individual crystals), which provide insight into the weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, and winds.

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Lawrence Coy, Paul A. Newman, Steven Pawson, and Leslie R. Lait

Abstract

A significant disruption of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) occurred during the Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter of 2015/16. Since the QBO is the major wind variability source in the tropical lower stratosphere and influences the rate of ascent of air entering the stratosphere, understanding the cause of this singular disruption may provide new insights into the variability and sensitivity of the global climate system. Here this disruptive event is examined using global reanalysis winds and temperatures from 1980 to 2016. Results reveal record maxima in tropical horizontal momentum fluxes and wave forcing of the tropical zonal mean zonal wind over the NH 2015/16 winter. The Rossby waves responsible for these record tropical values appear to originate in the NH and were focused strongly into the tropics at the 40-hPa level. Two additional NH winters, 1987/88 and 2010/11, were also found to have large tropical lower-stratospheric momentum flux divergences; however, the QBO westerlies did not change to easterlies in those cases.

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