Experiments on Tropical Stratospheric Mean-Wind Variations in a Spectral General Circulation Model

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  • 1 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 2 Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

A 30-level version of the rhomboidal-15 GFDL spectral climate model was constructed with roughly 2-km vertical resolution. In common with other comprehensive general circulation models, this model fails to produce a realistic quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in the tropical stratosphere.

A number of simulations were conducted in which the zonal-mean winds and temperatures in the equatorial lower and middle stratosphere were instantaneously perturbed and the model was integrated while the mean state relaxed toward its equilibrium. The time scale for the mean wind relaxation varied from somewhat over one month at 40 km to a few months in the lower stratosphere. This is similar to the time scales of observed QBO wind reversals. The wind relaxations in the model also displayed the downward phase propagation characteristic of QBO wind reversals, and mean wind anomalies of opposite sign to the imposed perturbation appear at higher levels. In the GCM, however, the downward propagation is clear only above about 20 mb.

Detailed investigations were made of the zonal-mean zonal momentum budget in the equatorial stratosphere in these experiments. The mean flow relaxations above 20 mb were mostly driven by the vertical Eliassen-Palm flux convergence. The anomalies in the horizontal Eliassen-Palm fluxes from extratropical planetary waves, however, were found to be the dominant effect forcing the mean flow back to its equilibrium at altitudes below 20 mb. The vertical eddy momentum fluxes near the equator in the model were decomposed using space-time Fourier analysis. While total fluxes associated with easterly and westerly waves are comparable to those used in simple mechanistic models of the QBO, the GCM has its flux spread over a very broad range of wavenumbers and phase speeds.

The effects of vertical resolution were studied directly by repeating part of the control integration with a 69-level version of the model with greatly enhanced vertical resolution in the lower and middle stratosphere. The results showed that there is almost no sensitivity of the simulation in the tropical stratosphere to the increased vertical resolution.

Abstract

A 30-level version of the rhomboidal-15 GFDL spectral climate model was constructed with roughly 2-km vertical resolution. In common with other comprehensive general circulation models, this model fails to produce a realistic quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in the tropical stratosphere.

A number of simulations were conducted in which the zonal-mean winds and temperatures in the equatorial lower and middle stratosphere were instantaneously perturbed and the model was integrated while the mean state relaxed toward its equilibrium. The time scale for the mean wind relaxation varied from somewhat over one month at 40 km to a few months in the lower stratosphere. This is similar to the time scales of observed QBO wind reversals. The wind relaxations in the model also displayed the downward phase propagation characteristic of QBO wind reversals, and mean wind anomalies of opposite sign to the imposed perturbation appear at higher levels. In the GCM, however, the downward propagation is clear only above about 20 mb.

Detailed investigations were made of the zonal-mean zonal momentum budget in the equatorial stratosphere in these experiments. The mean flow relaxations above 20 mb were mostly driven by the vertical Eliassen-Palm flux convergence. The anomalies in the horizontal Eliassen-Palm fluxes from extratropical planetary waves, however, were found to be the dominant effect forcing the mean flow back to its equilibrium at altitudes below 20 mb. The vertical eddy momentum fluxes near the equator in the model were decomposed using space-time Fourier analysis. While total fluxes associated with easterly and westerly waves are comparable to those used in simple mechanistic models of the QBO, the GCM has its flux spread over a very broad range of wavenumbers and phase speeds.

The effects of vertical resolution were studied directly by repeating part of the control integration with a 69-level version of the model with greatly enhanced vertical resolution in the lower and middle stratosphere. The results showed that there is almost no sensitivity of the simulation in the tropical stratosphere to the increased vertical resolution.

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