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The role of the stratosphere in future mid-latitude climate projections

Simpson, Isla R.; Hitchcock, Peter; Seager, Richard; Wu, Yutian

One of the greatest uncertainties when it comes to future projections of regional climate is how the large-scale atmospheric circulation will change (Shepherd 2014). While there is a general consensus among models on a zonal mean poleward shifting of the mid-latitude westerlies and associated storm tracks (Yin 2005; Kidston and Gerber 2010; Chang et al. 2012; Swart and Fyfe 2012; Wilcox et al. 2012; Barnes and Polvani 2013), there is a large spread in the magnitude of this response. In addition to this zonal mean, poleward shifting view, there are more localized changes in the circulation associated with altered stationary wave patterns (Stephenson and Held 1993; Joseph et al. 2004; Simpson et al. 2014). For many of these predicted changes, we do not have a good physical understanding of the mechanisms that produce them, or the factors that govern their uncertainty. The stratosphere and how it is expected to change in the future is one source of uncertainty, among many, in future tropospheric mid-latitude circulation change. There are a variety of ways in which the stratosphere’s mean state, variability and composition may impact on tropospheric climate change. Instead of providing an exhaustive review of this topic, we focus on the role of changes in the extra-tropical mean state of the stratosphere in future projections of tropospheric mid-latitude climate by considering two particular aspects. For the Northern Hemisphere we discuss the impact of uncertainty in future changes in the stratospheric polar vortex on tropospheric climate change. For the Southern Hemisphere we discuss the relative roles of stratospheric ozone depletion and changing greenhouse gas concentrations on the future evolution of the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude jet


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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
August 25, 2021