Mixing Processes within the Polar Night Jet

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  • 1 NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
  • | 2 Science and Technology Corporation, Hampton, Virginia
  • | 3 NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
  • | 4 U.K. Meteorological Office, Bracknell, United Kingdom
  • | 5 University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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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.

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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