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Journal Article

Seasonal Variability of the Polar Stratospheric Vortex in an Idealized AGCM with Varying Tropospheric Wave Forcing


The seasonal variability of the polar stratospheric vortex is studied in a simplified AGCM driven by specified equilibrium temperature distributions. Seasonal variations in equilibrium temperature are imposed in the stratosphere only, enabling the study of stratosphere–troposphere coupling on seasonal time scales, without the complication of an internal tropospheric seasonal cycle. The model is forced with different shapes and amplitudes of simple bottom topography, resulting in a range of stratospheric climates. The effect of these different kinds of topography on the seasonal variability of the strength of the polar vortex, the average timing and variability in timing of the final breakup of the vortex (final warming events), the conditions of occurrence and frequency of midwinter warming events, and the impact of the stratospheric seasonal cycle on the troposphere are explored. The inclusion of wavenumber-1 and wavenumber-2 topographies results in very different stratospheric seasonal variability. Hemispheric differences in stratospheric seasonal variability are recovered in the model with appropriate choices of wave-2 topography. In the model experiment with a realistic Northern Hemisphere–like frequency of midwinter warming events, the distribution of the intervals between these events suggests that the model has no year-to-year memory. When forced with wave-1 topography, the gross features of seasonal variability are similar to those forced with wave-2 topography, but the dependence on forcing magnitude is weaker. Further, the frequency of major warming events has a nonmonotonic dependence on forcing magnitude and never reaches the frequency observed in the Northern Hemisphere.

Full Publication

Aditi Sheshadri
R.A. Plumb
E.P. Gerber
Journal Name
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Publication Date
May, 2015