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The Life Cycle of Northern Hemisphere Downward Wave Coupling between the Stratosphere and Troposphere

Shaw, Tiffany Ann; Perlwitz, Judith

The life cycle of Northern Hemisphere downward wave coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere via wave reflection is analyzed. Downward wave coupling events are defined by extreme negative values of a wave coupling index based on the leading principal component of the daily wave-1 heat flux at 30 hPa. The life cycle occurs over a 28-day period. In the stratosphere there is a transition from positive to negative total wave-1 heat flux and westward to eastward phase tilt with height of the wave-1 geopotential height field. In addition, the zonal-mean zonal wind in the upper stratosphere weakens leading to negative vertical shear. Following the evolution in the stratosphere there is a shift toward the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in the troposphere. The pattern develops from a large westward-propagating wave-1 anomaly in the high-latitude North Atlantic sector. The subsequent equatorward propagation leads to a positive anomaly in midlatitudes. The near-surface temperature and circulation anomalies are consistent with a positive NAO phase. The results suggest that wave reflection events can directly influence tropospheric weather. Finally, winter seasons dominated by extreme wave coupling and stratospheric vortex events are compared. The largest impacts in the troposphere occur during the extreme negative seasons for both indices, namely seasons with multiple wave reflection events leading to a positive NAO phase or seasons with major sudden stratospheric warmings (weak vortex) leading to a negative NAO phase. The results reveal that the dynamical coupling between the stratosphere and NAO involves distinct dynamical mechanisms that can only be characterized by separate wave coupling and vortex indices.


Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
April 12, 2013