The Antarctic Stratospheric Sudden Warming of 2002: A Self-Tuned Resonance?

Esler, J. G.; Polvani, Lorenzo M.; Scott, R. K.

The extraordinary Antarctic stratospheric warming event of 2002 was characterized by a remarkable vertical structure, with the vortex observed to divide at upper levels in the stratosphere but not at lower levels: such ‘partially’ split vortex events are relatively rare. A simple, yet fully three-dimensional, model is constructed to investigate the dynamics of this unique event. Planetary waves are excited on the model vortex edge by a lower boundary forcing characterized by two parameters: an amplitude hF and a frequency ωF, measured relative to a stationary frame. For realistic forcing amplitudes, a partial vortex split resembling that observed during the 2002 event is found only within a specific, narrow band of forcing frequencies. Exploiting the relative simplicity of our model, these frequencies are shown to be those causing a ‘self-tuning’ resonant excitation of the gravest linear mode, during which nonlinear feedback causes an initially off-resonant forcing to approach resonance.


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Geophysical Research Letters

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