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R. Bradley Pierce and T. Duncan A. Fairlie

Abstract

Ten yeah of stratosphere geopotential height data are analyzed in an attempt to determine whether there are preferred flow regimes in the Northern Hemisphere winter stratosphere. The data are taken from Stratospheric Sounding Units on board NOAA satellites. The probability density estimate of the amplitude of the wavenumber 1 10-mb height is found to be bimodal. The density distribution is composed of a dominant large-amplitude mode and a less frequent low-amplitude mode. When the wavenumber 1 10-mb height data are projected onto the phase plant defined by the 10-mb zonal-mean winds and wavenumber 1 100-mb heights, three preferred regimes are evident. The small-amplitude mode separates into a strong zonal wind-weak wave regime and a weak zonal wind-weak wave regime. The large-amplitude mode is an intermediate zonal wind-strong wave regime. Transitions between the large-amplitude regime and the weak zonal wind-weak wave regime are found to be associated with major stratospheric warnings. The clustering of the stratospheric data into the preferred flow regimes is interpreted in light of the bifurcation properties of the Holton and Mass model. The interannual variability of the Northern Hemisphere winter stratosphere is interpreted in terms of the relative frequency of the observed preferred regimes.

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T. Duncan, A. Fairlie, Richard E. Turner, and David E. Siskind

Abstract

A three-dimensional off-line spectral transport model has been combined with a global, mechanistic, finite-difference dynamics model of the middle atmosphere in order to study transport and photochemistry in the middle atmosphere for specific, observed episodes. In this paper, the basic transport characteristics of the combined models are examined, first using steady, idealized flow fields and second using time-dependent flow fields closely related to observed atmospheric behavior. Transport conducted with the combined models is found to compare favorably with transport conducted on-line in the dynamics model, given appropriate time averaging of the flow fields and suitable choice of artificial diffusion.

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R. Bradley Pierce, T. Duncan Fairlie, William L. Grose, Richard Swinbank, and Alan O'Neill

Abstract

Lagrangian material line simulations are performed using U.K. Meteorological Office assimilated winds and temperatures to examine mixing processes in the middle- and lower-stratospheric polar night jet during the 1992 Southern Hemisphere spring and Northern Hemisphere winter. The Lagrangian simulations are undertaken to provide insight into the effects of mixing within the polar night jet on observations of the polar vortex made by instruments onboard the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite during these periods. A moderate to strong kinematic barrier to large-scale isentropic exchange, similar to the barrier identified in GCM simulations, is identified during both of these periods. Characteristic timescales for mixing by large-scale isentropic motions within the polar night jet range from 20 days in the Southern Hemisphere lower stratosphere to years in the Northern Hemisphere middle stratosphere. The long mixing timescales found in the Northern Hemisphere polar night jet do not persist. Instead, the Northern Hemisphere kinematic barriers are broken down as part of the large-scale stratospheric response to a strong tropospheric blocking event. A series of Lagrangian experiments are conducted to investigate the sensitivity of the kinematic barrier to diabatic effects and to small-scale inertial gravity wave motions. Differential diabatic descent is found to have a significant impact on mixing processes within the Southern Hemisphere middle-stratospheric jet core. The interaction between small-scale displacements by idealized, inertial gravity waves and the large-scale flow is found to have a significant impact on mixing within the polar night jet in both hemispheres. These sensitivity experiments suggest that scales of motion that are unresolved in global assimilated datasets may contribute to mass exchange across the kinematic barrier to large-scale isentropic motion.

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