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William J. M. Seviour, Anand Gnanadesikan, and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that the response of the Southern Ocean to stratospheric ozone depletion is nonmonotonic in time; consisting of an initial cooling followed by a long-term warming. This result may be significant for the attribution of observed Southern Ocean temperature and sea ice trends, but the time scale and magnitude of the response is poorly constrained, with a wide spread among climate models. Furthermore, a long-lived initial cooling period has only been observed in a model with idealized geometry and lacking an explicit representation of ozone. Here the authors calculate the transient response of the Southern Ocean to a step-change in ozone in a comprehensive coupled climate model, GFDL-ESM2Mc. The Southern Ocean responds to ozone depletion with an initial cooling, lasting 25 yr, followed by a warming. The authors extend previous studies to investigate the dependence of the response on the ozone forcing as well as the regional pattern of this response. The response of the Southern Ocean relative to natural variability is shown to be largely independent of the initial state. However, the magnitude of this response is much less than that of natural variability found in the model, which limits its influence and detectability.

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William J. M. Seviour, Darryn W. Waugh, and Richard K. Scott

Abstract

The Martian polar atmosphere is known to have a persistent local minimum in potential vorticity (PV) near the winter pole, with a region of high PV encircling it. This finding is surprising, since an isolated band of PV is barotropically unstable, a result going back to Rayleigh. Here the stability of a Mars-like annular vortex is investigated using numerical integrations of the rotating shallow-water equations. The mode of instability and its growth rate is shown to depend upon the latitude and width of the annulus. By introducing thermal relaxation toward an annular equilibrium profile with a time scale similar to that of the instability, a persistent annular vortex with similar characteristics as that observed in the Martian atmosphere can be simulated. This time scale, typically 0.5–2 sols, is similar to radiative relaxation time scales for Mars’s polar atmosphere. The persistence of an annular vortex is also shown to be robust to topographic forcing, as long as it is below a certain amplitude. It is therefore proposed that the persistence of this barotropically unstable annular vortex is permitted owing to the combination of short radiative relaxation time scales and relatively weak topographic forcing in the Martian polar atmosphere.

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William J. M. Seviour, Anand Gnanadesikan, Darryn Waugh, and Marie-Aude Pradal

Abstract

The impact of changing ozone on the climate of the Southern Ocean is evaluated using an ensemble of coupled climate model simulations. By imposing a step change from 1860 to 2000 conditions, response functions associated with this change are estimated. The physical processes that drive this response are different across time periods and locations, as is the sign of the response itself. Initial cooling in the Pacific sector is driven not only by the increased winds pushing cold water northward, but also by the southward shift of storms associated with the jet stream. This shift drives both an increase in cloudiness (resulting in less absorption of solar radiation) and an increase in net freshwater flux to the ocean (resulting in a decrease in surface salinity that cuts off mixing of warm water from below). A subsurface increase in temperature associated with this reduction in mixing then upwells along the Antarctic coast, producing a subsequent warming. Similar changes in convective activity occur in the Weddell Sea but are offset in time. Changes in sea ice concentration also play a role in modulating solar heating of the ocean near the continent. The time scale for the initial cooling is much longer than that seen in NCAR CCSM3.5, possibly reflecting differences in natural convective variability between that model (which has essentially no Southern Ocean deep convection) and the one used here (which has a large and possibly unrealistically regular mode of convection) or to differences in cloud feedbacks or in the location of the anomalous winds.

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William J. M. Seviour, Darryn W. Waugh, Lorenzo M. Polvani, Gustavo J. P. Correa, and Chaim I. Garfinkel

Abstract

Recent studies have shown large intermodel differences in the magnitude of the simulated response of the Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation to ozone depletion. This inconsistency may be a result of different model dynamics, different ozone forcing, or statistical uncertainty. Here the summertime tropospheric response to ozone depletion is analyzed in an array of climate model simulations with incrementally increasing complexity. This allows the sensitivity of the response to a range of factors to be carefully tested, including the choice of model, the prescribed sea surface temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations, the inclusion of a coupled ocean, the temporal resolution of the prescribed ozone concentrations, and the inclusion of interactive chemistry. A consistent poleward shift of the extratropical jet is found in all simulations. All simulations also show a strengthening of the extratropical jet and a widening of the southern edge of the Hadley cell, but the magnitude of these responses is much less consistent. However, in all simulations statistical uncertainty due to interannual variability is found to be large relative to the size of the response, despite considering long (100 yr) annually repeating simulations. It is therefore proposed that interannual variability is a dominant cause of intermodel differences in past studies, which have generally analyzed shorter, transient simulations.

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William J. M. Seviour, Steven C. Hardiman, Lesley J. Gray, Neal Butchart, Craig MacLachlan, and Adam A. Scaife

Abstract

Using a set of seasonal hindcast simulations produced by the Met Office Global Seasonal Forecast System, version 5 (GloSea5), significant predictability of the southern annular mode (SAM) is demonstrated during the austral spring. The correlation of the September–November mean SAM with observed values is 0.64, which is statistically significant at the 95% confidence level [confidence interval: (0.18, 0.92)], and is similar to that found recently for the North Atlantic Oscillation in the same system. Significant skill is also found in the prediction of the strength of the Antarctic stratospheric polar vortex at 1 month average lead times. Because of the observed strong correlation between interannual variability in the strength of the Antarctic stratospheric circulation and ozone concentrations, it is possible to make skillful predictions of Antarctic column ozone amounts. By studying the variation of forecast skill with time and height, it is shown that skillful predictions of the SAM are significantly influenced by stratospheric anomalies that descend with time and are coupled with the troposphere. This effect allows skillful statistical forecasts of the October mean SAM to be produced based only on midstratosphere anomalies on 1 August. Together, these results both demonstrate a significant advance in the skill of seasonal forecasts of the Southern Hemisphere and highlight the importance of accurate modeling and observation of the stratosphere in producing long-range forecasts.

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