Here are the current Papers & Articles under the research topic Stratosphere. Click on the title of a paper you are interested in to go straight to the full paper.
Stratospheric drivers of extreme events at the Earth’s surface
Published Dec 2020.
The stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere at heights between 10-50 km, is an important source of variability for the weather and climate at the Earth’s surface on timescales of weeks to decades. Since the stratospheric circulation evolves more slowly than that of the troposphere below, it can contribute to predictability at the surface. Our synthesis of studies on the coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere reveals that the stratosphere also contributes substantially to a wide range of climate-related extreme events. These extreme events include cold air outbreaks and extreme heat, air pollution, wildfires, wind extremes, and storm clusters, as well as changes in tropical cyclones and sea ice cover, and they can have devastating consequences for human health, infrastructure, and ecosystems. A better understanding of the vertical coupling in the atmosphere, along with improved representation in numerical models, is therefore expected to help predict extreme events on timescales from weeks to decades in terms of the event type, magnitude, frequency, location, and timing. With a better understanding of stratosphere-troposphere coupling, it may be possible to link more tropospheric extremes to stratospheric forcing, which will be crucial for emergency planning and management.
The Dynamic Tropopause and Potential Vorticity: An Introduction
Explanatory paper by US National Weather Service. No abstract.
The Three-Dimensional Structure of Breaking Rossby Waves in the Polar Wintertime Stratosphere
Published Nov 2000.
The three-dimensional nature of breaking Rossby waves in the polar wintertime stratosphere is studied using an idealized global primitive equation model. The model is initialized with a well-formed polar vortex, characterized by a latitudinal band of steep potential vorticity (PV) gradients. Planetary-scale Rossby waves are generated by varying the topography of the bottom boundary, corresponding to undulations of the tropopause. Such topographically forced Rossby waves then propagate up the edge of the vortex, and their amplification with height leads to irreversible wave breaking.
These numerical experiments highlight several nonlinear aspects of stratospheric dynamics that are beyond the reach of both isentropic two-dimensional models and fully realistic GCM simulations. They also show that the polar vortex is contorted by the breaking Rossby waves in a surprisingly wide range of shapes.
With zonal wavenumber-1 forcing, wave breaking usually initiates as a deep helical tongue of PV that is extruded from the polar vortex. This tongue is often observed to roll up into deep isolated columns, which, in turn, may be stretched and tilted by horizontal and vertical shears. The wave amplitude directly controls the depth of the wave breaking region and the amount of vortex erosion. At large forcing amplitudes, the wave breaking in the middle/lower portions of the vortex destroys the PV gradients essential for vertical propagation, thus shielding the top of the vortex from further wave breaking.
The initial vertical structure of the polar vortex is shown to play an important role in determining the characteristics of the wave breaking. Perhaps surprisingly, initially steeper PV gradients allow for stronger vertical wave propagation and thus lead to stronger erosion. Vertical wind shear has the notable effect of tilting and stretching PV structures, and thus dramatically accelerating the downscale stirring. An initial decrease in vortex area with increasing height (i.e., a conical shape) leads to focusing of wave activity, which amplifies the wave breaking. This effect provides a geometric interpretation of the “preconditioning” that often precedes a stratospheric sudden warming event. The implications for stratospheric dynamics of these and other three-dimensional vortex properties are discussed.
Observational Evidence of a Stratospheric Influence on the Troposphere by Planetary Wave Reflection
2003 paper. Abstract:
Recent studies have pointed out the impact of the stratosphere on the troposphere by dynamic coupling. In the present paper, observational evidence for an effect of downward planetary wave reflection in the stratosphere on Northern Hemisphere tropospheric waves is given by combining statistical and dynamical diagnostics. A time-lagged singular value decomposition analysis is applied to daily tropospheric and stratospheric height fields recomposed for a single zonal wavenumber. A wave geometry diagnostic for wave propagation characteristics that separates the index of refraction into vertical and meridional components is used to diagnose the occurrence of reflecting surfaces. For zonal wavenumber 1, this study suggests that there is one characteristic configuration of the stratospheric jet that reflects waves back into the troposphere—when the polar night jet peaks in the high-latitude midstratosphere. This configuration is related to the formation of a reflecting surface for vertical propagation at around 5 hPa as a result of the vertical curvature of the zonal-mean wind and a clear meridional waveguide in the lower to middle stratosphere that channels the reflected wave activity to the high-latitude troposphere.
Why CO2 cools the middle atmosphere – a consolidating model perspective
2016 paper. Abstract:
Complex models of the atmosphere show that increased carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, while warming the surface and troposphere, lead to lower temperatures in the stratosphere and mesosphere. This cooling, which is often referred to as “stratospheric cooling”, is evident also in observations and considered to be one of the fingerprints of anthropogenic global warming. Although the responsible mechanisms have been identified, they have mostly been discussed heuristically, incompletely, or in combination with other effects such as ozone depletion, leaving the subject prone to misconceptions. Here we use a one-dimensional window-grey radiation model of the atmosphere to illustrate the physical essence of the mechanisms by which CO2cools the stratosphere and mesosphere: (i) the blocking effect, associated with a cooling due to the fact that CO2absorbsradiation at wavelengths where the atmosphere is already relatively opaque, and (ii) the indirect solar effect,associated with a cooling in places where an additional (solar) heating term is present (which on Earth is particularly the case in the upper parts of the ozone layer). By contrast, in the grey model without solar heating within the atmosphere, the cooling aloft is only a transient blocking phenomenon that is completely compensated as the surface attains its warmer equilibrium. Moreover, we quantify the relative contribution of these effects by simulating the response to an abrupt increase in CO2(and chlorofluorocarbon) concentrations with an atmospheric general circulation model. We find that the two permanent effects contribute roughly equally to the CO2-inducedcooling, with the indirect solar effect dominating around the stratopause and the blocking effect dominating otherwise.