Kelvin Wave Variability in the Upper Stratosphere Observed in SBUV Ozone Data

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The signatures of equatorially trapped Kelvin waves in the upper stratosphere are analyzed in Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) ozone data over the years 1979–86. Comparisons are first made with contemporaneous Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) ozone data to validate the SBUV Kelvin wave signatures. SBUV and LIMS data both show coherent Kelvin wave oscillations in the upper stratosphere, where ozone is photochemically controlled, and mirrors the temperature fluctuations associated with Kelvin waves; however, SBUV data underestimate wave amplitudes by 20%–60%. Furthermore, transport-induced Kelvin wave patterns in the lower stratosphere are not observed in SBUV data. The eight years of SBUV data reveal the regular occurrence of eastward-propagating zonal wave 1–2 Kelvin waves with periods in the range of 5–15 days. These data show a strong semiannual modulation of Kelvin wave activity, as documented previously in rocketsonde observations. Eight-year-average ensemble spectra are compared to the semiannual oscillation (SAO) in stratospheric zonal winds; a seasonal asymmetry in the strength of Kelvin waves is found, which mimics that observed in the zonal winds. There is a near exact phasing of maxima in wave variance with the strongest easterly zonal winds, i.e., when the wind acceleration is near zero; this argues that Kelvin waves are not a determining factor in the westerly acceleration phase. An exception is found near the stratopause in January when Kelvin wave maxima coincide with strong westerly acceleration. Interannual variability of Kelvin waves is studied in relation to that of the stratospheric zonal winds. No consistent relationship with the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in the lower stratosphere is observed, and con-correlations with upper stratospheric winds are weak or nonexistent.

Abstract

The signatures of equatorially trapped Kelvin waves in the upper stratosphere are analyzed in Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) ozone data over the years 1979–86. Comparisons are first made with contemporaneous Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) ozone data to validate the SBUV Kelvin wave signatures. SBUV and LIMS data both show coherent Kelvin wave oscillations in the upper stratosphere, where ozone is photochemically controlled, and mirrors the temperature fluctuations associated with Kelvin waves; however, SBUV data underestimate wave amplitudes by 20%–60%. Furthermore, transport-induced Kelvin wave patterns in the lower stratosphere are not observed in SBUV data. The eight years of SBUV data reveal the regular occurrence of eastward-propagating zonal wave 1–2 Kelvin waves with periods in the range of 5–15 days. These data show a strong semiannual modulation of Kelvin wave activity, as documented previously in rocketsonde observations. Eight-year-average ensemble spectra are compared to the semiannual oscillation (SAO) in stratospheric zonal winds; a seasonal asymmetry in the strength of Kelvin waves is found, which mimics that observed in the zonal winds. There is a near exact phasing of maxima in wave variance with the strongest easterly zonal winds, i.e., when the wind acceleration is near zero; this argues that Kelvin waves are not a determining factor in the westerly acceleration phase. An exception is found near the stratopause in January when Kelvin wave maxima coincide with strong westerly acceleration. Interannual variability of Kelvin waves is studied in relation to that of the stratospheric zonal winds. No consistent relationship with the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in the lower stratosphere is observed, and con-correlations with upper stratospheric winds are weak or nonexistent.

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