The Coupled Stratosphere–Troposphere Response to Impulsive Forcing from the Troposphere

Reichler, Thomas; Kushner, Paul J.; Polvani, Lorenzo M.

A simple atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) is used to investigate the transient response of the stratosphere–troposphere system to externally imposed pulses of lower-tropospheric planetary wave activity. The atmospheric GCM is a dry, hydrostatic, global primitive-equations model, whose circulation includes an active polar vortex and a tropospheric jet maintained by baroclinic eddies. Planetary wave activity pulses are generated by a perturbation of the solid lower boundary that grow and decay over a period of 10 days. The planetary wave pulses propagate upward and break in the stratosphere. Subsequently, a zonal-mean circulation anomaly propagates downward, often into the troposphere, at lags of 30–100 days. The evolution of the response is found to be dependent on the state of the stratosphere–troposphere system at the time the pulse is generated. In particular, on the basis of a large ensemble of these simulations, it is found that the length of time the signal takes to propagate downward from the stratosphere is controlled by initial anomalies in the zonal-mean circulation and in the zonal-mean wave drag. Criteria based on these anomaly patterns can be used, therefore, to predict the long-term surface response of the stratosphere–troposphere system to a planetary wave pulse up to 90 days after the pulse is generated. In an independent test, it is verified that the initial states that most strongly satisfy these criteria respond in the expected way to the lower-tropospheric wave activity pulse.


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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

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