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Upward Wave Activity Flux as a Precursor to Extreme Stratospheric Events and Subsequent Anomalous Surface Weather Regimes

Polvani, Lorenzo M.; Waugh, Darryn W.

It has recently been shown that extreme stratospheric events (ESEs) are followed by surface weather anomalies (for up to 60 days), suggesting that stratospheric variability might be used to extend weather prediction beyond current time scales. In this paper, attention is drawn away from the stratosphere to demonstrate that the originating point of ESEs is located in the troposphere. First, it is shown that anomalously strong eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa nearly always precede weak vortex events, and conversely, anomalously weak eddy heat fluxes precede strong vortex events, consistent with wave–mean flow interaction theory. This finding clarifies the dynamical nature of ESEs and suggests that a major source of stratospheric variability (and thus predictability) is located in the troposphere below and not in the stratosphere itself. Second, it is shown that the daily time series of eddy heat flux found at 100 hPa and integrated over the prior 40 days, exhibit a remarkably high anticorrelation (−0.8) with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index at 10 hPa. Following Baldwin and Dunkerton, it is then demonstrated that events with anomalously strong (weak) integrated eddy heat fluxes at 100 hPa are followed by anomalously large (small) surface values of the AO index up to 60 days following each event. This suggests that the stratosphere is unlikely to be the dominant source of the anomalous surface weather regimes discussed in Thompson et al.


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Also Published In

Journal of Climate