Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 22 items for

  • Author or Editor: Peter Hitchcock x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Peter Hitchcock

Abstract

A low-dimensional dynamical system that describes dynamical variability of the stratospheric polar vortex is presented. The derivation is based on a linearized, contour-dynamics representation of quasigeostrophic shallow-water flow on a polar f plane. The model consists of a single linear wave mode propagating on a near-circular patch of constant potential vorticity (PV). The PV jump at the vortex edge serves as an additional degree of freedom. The wave is forced by surface topography, and interacts with the vortex through a simplified parameterization of diabatic wave–mean flow interaction. The approach can be generalized to other geometries. The resulting three-component system depends on four nondimensional parameters, and the structure of the steady-state solutions can be determined analytically in some detail. Despite its extreme simplification, the model exhibits variability that is closely analogous to the Holton–Mass model, a well-known and more complex dynamical model of stratospheric variability. The present model exhibits two stable steady solutions, one consisting of a strong vortex with a small amplitude wave and the second consisting of a weak vortex with a large amplitude wave. Periodic and aperiodic limit cycles are also identified, analogous to similar solutions in the Holton–Mass model. Model trajectories also exhibit a number of behaviors that have been identified in observations. A key insight is that the time-mean state of the vortex is predominantly controlled by the properties of the linear mode, while the strength of the topographic forcing plays a far weaker role away from bifurcations.

Restricted access
Ying Dai and Peter Hitchcock

Abstract

The canonical tropospheric response to a weakening of the stratospheric vortex—an equatorward shift of the eddy-driven jet—is mostly limited to the North Atlantic following sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs). A coherent change in the Pacific eddy-driven jet is notably absent. Why is this so? Using daily reanalysis data, we show that air–sea interactions over the North Pacific are responsible for the basin-asymmetric response to SSWs. Prior to the onset of some SSWs, their tropospheric precursors produce a dipolar SST pattern in the North Pacific, which then persists as the stratospheric polar vortex breaks down following the onset of the SSW. By reinforcing the lower-tropospheric baroclinicity, the dipolar SST pattern helps sustain the generation of baroclinic eddies, strengthening the near-surface Pacific eddy-driven jet and maintaining its near-climatological-mean state. This prevents the jet from being perturbed by the downward influence of the stratospheric anomalies. As a result, these SSWs exhibit a highly basin-asymmetric surface response with only the Atlantic eddy-driven jet shifted equatorward. For SSWs occurring without the atmospheric precursors in the North Pacific troposphere, the dipolar SST pattern is absent due to the lack of the atmospheric forcing. In the absence of the dipolar SST pattern and the resultant eddy–mean flow feedbacks, these SSWs exhibit a basin-symmetric surface response with both the Atlantic and the Pacific eddy-driven jets shifted equatorward. Our results provide an ocean–atmosphere coupled perspective on stratosphere–troposphere interaction following SSW events and have potential for improving subseasonal to seasonal forecasts for surface weather and climate.

Restricted access
Ying Dai and Peter Hitchcock

Abstract

The canonical tropospheric response to a weakening of the stratospheric vortex—an equatorward shift of the eddy-driven jet—is mostly limited to the North Atlantic following sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs). A coherent change in the Pacific eddy-driven jet is notably absent. Why is this so? Using daily reanalysis data, we show that air-sea interactions over the North Pacific are responsible for the basin-asymmetric response to SSWs. Prior to the onset of some SSWs, their tropospheric precursors produce a dipolar SST pattern in the North Pacific, which then persists as the stratospheric polar vortex breaks down following the onset of the SSW. By reinforcing the lower tropospheric baroclinicity, the dipolar SST pattern helps sustain the generation of baroclinic eddies, strengthening the near-surface Pacific eddy-driven jet and maintaining its near-climatological-mean state. This prevents the jet from being perturbed by the downward influence of the stratospheric anomalies. As a result, these SSWs exhibit a highly basin-asymmetric surface response with only the Atlantic eddy-driven jet shifted equatorward. For SSWs occurring without the atmospheric precursors in the North Pacific troposphere, the dipolar SST pattern is absent due to the lack of the atmospheric forcing. In the absence of the dipolar SST pattern and the resultant eddy-mean flow feedbacks, these SSWs exhibit a basin-symmetric surface response with both the Atlantic and the Pacific eddy-driven jets shifted equatorward. Our results provide an ocean-atmosphere coupled perspective on stratosphere-troposphere interaction following SSW events and have potential for improving subseasonal to seasonal forecasts for surface weather and climate.

Restricted access
Peter Hitchcock and Peter H. Haynes

Abstract

Numerical experiments, presented in a companion paper, have been performed in which the zonal-mean state of the stratosphere in a comprehensive, stratosphere-resolving, general circulation model is strongly relaxed (or “nudged”) toward the evolution of a reference sudden warming event in order to investigate its influence on the freely evolving troposphere below. Similar approaches have been used in a number of other studies. This raises the question of whether such an artificial relaxation induces the adiabatic and diabatic adjustments expected below the region of nudging, even in the absence of the stratospheric wave driving responsible for the reference event.

Motivated by this question, the zonally symmetric quasigeostrophic diabatic response to zonal forces (representing wave driving) in a system nudged to a time-dependent reference state is studied. In the presence of wave driving in the nudging region that differs from the reference state, the meridional mass circulation of the reference state is reproduced only in the region below the nudging up to a correction that is inversely proportional to the strength of the nudging. The anomalous circulation is confined because of an effective boundary condition at the interface of the nudging layer. The nudging also produces an artificial “sponge-layer feedback” immediately below the region of the nudging in response to differences in the tropospheric wave driving. The strength of this artificial feedback is closely related to the strength of the effective boundary condition; however, the time scale required for the sponge-layer feedback to be established is typically much longer than that required for the confinement.

Full access
Peter Hitchcock and Isla R. Simpson

Abstract

The coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere following two major stratospheric sudden warmings is studied in the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model using a nudging technique by which the zonal-mean evolution of the reference sudden warmings are artificially induced in an ~100-member ensemble spun off from a control simulation. Both reference warmings are taken from a freely running integration of the model. One event is a displacement, the other is a split, and both are followed by extended recoveries in the lower stratosphere. The methodology permits a statistically robust study of their influence on the troposphere below.

The nudged ensembles exhibit a tropospheric annular mode response closely analogous to that seen in observations, confirming the downward influence of sudden warmings on the troposphere in a comprehensive model. This tropospheric response coincides more closely with the lower-stratospheric annular mode anomalies than with the midstratospheric wind reversal. In addition to the expected synoptic-scale eddy feedback, the planetary-scale eddies also reinforce the tropospheric wind changes, apparently responding directly to the stratospheric anomalies.

Furthermore, despite the zonal symmetry of the stratospheric perturbation, a highly zonally asymmetric near-surface response is produced, corresponding to a strongly negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation with a much weaker response over the Pacific basin that matches composites of sudden warmings from the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project models exhibit a similar response, though in most models the response’s magnitude is underrepresented.

Full access
Peter Hitchcock and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

The recovery of the Arctic polar vortex following stratospheric sudden warmings is found to take upward of 3 months in a particular subset of cases, termed here polar-night jet oscillation (PJO) events. The anomalous zonal-mean circulation above the pole during this recovery is characterized by a persistently warm lower stratosphere, and above this a cold midstratosphere and anomalously high stratopause, which descends as the event unfolds. Composites of these events in the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model show the persistence of the lower-stratospheric anomaly is a result of strongly suppressed wave driving and weak radiative cooling at these heights. The upper-stratospheric and lower-mesospheric anomalies are driven immediately following the warming by anomalous planetary-scale eddies, following which, anomalous parameterized nonorographic and orographic gravity waves play an important role. These details are found to be robust for PJO events (as opposed to sudden warmings in general) in that many details of individual PJO events match the composite mean.

A zonal-mean quasigeostrophic model on the sphere is shown to reproduce the response to the thermal and mechanical forcings produced during a PJO event. The former is well approximated by Newtonian cooling. The response can thus be considered as a transient approach to the steady-state, downward control limit. In this context, the time scale of the lower-stratospheric anomaly is determined by the transient, radiative response to the extended absence of wave driving. The extent to which the dynamics of the wave-driven descent of the stratopause can be considered analogous to the descending phases of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is also discussed.

Full access
Peter Hitchcock and Isla R. Simpson

Abstract

The equatorward shift of the zonal-mean midlatitude tropospheric jet following a stratospheric sudden warming in a comprehensive stratosphere-resolving model is found to be well quantified by the simple model of tropospheric eddy feedbacks proposed by Lorenz and Hartmann. This permits a decomposition of the shift into a component driven by the stratospheric anomalies and a component driven by tropospheric feedbacks.

This is done by extending the simple model to include three effective forcing mechanisms by which the stratosphere may influence the tropospheric jet. These include 1) the zonally symmetric adjustments associated with the mean meridional circulation and the direct influence of the stratospheric anomalies on 2) the tropospheric synoptic-scale or 3) the tropospheric planetary-scale eddies. Although the anomalous tropospheric winds are primarily maintained against surface friction by the synoptic-scale eddies, this response can be entirely attributed to the eddy feedback term. The response of the planetary-scale eddies, in contrast, can be directly attributed to the stratosphere. The zonally symmetric tropospheric circulation associated with downward control is found to play little role in driving the tropospheric response.

The prospects of applying this methodology to reanalysis data are also considered, but statistical limitations and the relatively weak projection of the vertically integrated composite wind anomalies onto the leading EOF preclude any conclusions from being drawn.

Full access
Alison Ming, Peter Hitchcock, and Peter Haynes

Abstract

The response of the atmosphere to zonally symmetric applied heating and mechanical forcing is considered, allowing for the fact that the response may include a change in the wave force (or “wave drag”). A scaling argument shows that an applied zonally symmetric heating is effective in driving a steady meridional circulation provided that the wave force (required to satisfy angular momentum constraints) is sufficiently sensitive to changes in the mean flow in the sense that the ratio is large, where K is a measure of the sensitivity of the wave force; α, N, and f are the radiative damping rate, buoyancy frequency, and Coriolis parameter, respectively; and and are the horizontal and vertical length scales of the heating, respectively. Furthermore, in the “narrow heating” regime where this ratio is large, the structure of the meridional circulation response is only weakly dependent on the details of the wave force. The scaling arguments are verified by experiments in a dry dynamical circulation model. Consistent with the scaling prediction, the regime does not apply when the width of the imposed heating is increased. The narrow-heating regime is demonstrated to be relevant to the double peak in tropical lower-stratospheric upwelling considered in a companion paper, supporting the hypothesis that this feature is radiatively driven. Similar arguments are applied to show that a narrow zonally symmetric applied mechanical forcing is primarily balanced by a change in wave force. This provides an explanation for the recently identified compensation between resolved and parameterized waves in driving modeled trends in the Brewer–Dobson circulation.

Full access
Alison Ming, Peter Hitchcock, and Peter Haynes

Abstract

The processes responsible for double-peak latitudinal structures in the time-averaged tropical lower-stratospheric upwelling, centered near 70 hPa and 20°N/S, previously noted in ERA-Interim and other reanalysis and model datasets, are considered. It is demonstrated that the structure of the wave force resolved by ERA-Interim consistently balances the angular momentum transport associated with the double peak. Analysis of the corresponding structures in diabatic heating rates from ERA-Interim indicates that the peaks arise predominantly from the meridional structure in ozone concentrations and the associated absorption of both shortwave and longwave radiation. Additional smaller contributions arise from local absorption of longwave radiation emitted from the relatively warm layers above and below, as well as from cloud-related radiative effects and nonradiative diabatic heating. The temperature at 70 hPa is slightly higher near 20°N/S than at the equator, opposite of what would be expected if the latitudinal structure in radiative heating were associated with local relaxation. It is proposed on the basis of this analysis that the primary cause of the peaks in upwelling is the externally imposed (i.e., nonrelaxational) part of the radiative heating field. The dynamical plausibility of this hypothesis is investigated in a companion paper.

Full access
Peter Hitchcock, Theodore G. Shepherd, and Shigeo Yoden

Abstract

The validity of approximating radiative heating rates in the middle atmosphere by a local linear relaxation to a reference temperature state (i.e., “Newtonian cooling”) is investigated. Using radiative heating rate and temperature output from a chemistry–climate model with realistic spatiotemporal variability and realistic chemical and radiative parameterizations, it is found that a linear regression model can capture more than 80% of the variance in longwave heating rates throughout most of the stratosphere and mesosphere, provided that the damping rate is allowed to vary with height, latitude, and season. The linear model describes departures from the climatological mean, not from radiative equilibrium. Photochemical damping rates in the upper stratosphere are similarly diagnosed. Three important exceptions, however, are found. The approximation of linearity breaks down near the edges of the polar vortices in both hemispheres. This nonlinearity can be well captured by including a quadratic term. The use of a scale-independent damping rate is not well justified in the lower tropical stratosphere because of the presence of a broad spectrum of vertical scales. The local assumption fails entirely during the breakup of the Antarctic vortex, where large fluctuations in temperature near the top of the vortex influence longwave heating rates within the quiescent region below. These results are relevant for mechanistic modeling studies of the middle atmosphere, particularly those investigating the final Antarctic warming.

Full access