A climatology of elevated stratopause events in the whole atmosphere community climate model


Corresponding author: A. Chandran, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA. (chandran@ucar.edu)


[1] Elevated stratopause (ES) events occurring during Northern Hemisphere winter are identified in four climate simulations of the period 1953–2005 made with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). We find 68 ES events in 212 winters. These events are found in winters when the middle atmosphere is disturbed and there are zonal wind reversals in the stratosphere at high latitudes. These disturbances can be associated with both major and minor stratospheric sudden warming events (SSWs). The ES events occur under conditions where the stratospheric jet, the gravity wave forcing, and the residual circulation remain reversed longer than in those winters where an SSW occurs without an ES. We compare ES events with the type of SSW (vortex splitting and vortex displacement) and find that 68% of ES events form after vortex splitting events. We also present a climatology of ES events based on NASA's Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications reanalysis data from 1979 to 2012 and compare it to the model results. WACCM composites of major SSW and ES also show enhanced Eliassen-Palm flux divergences in the upper mesosphere after the stratospheric warming, immediately before the formation of an ES. However, the formation of an ES in WACCM is due primarily to adiabatic heating from gravity wave-driven downwelling, which follows the reestablishment of the eastward jet in the upper stratosphere. We find nine winters where an ES forms in the absence of any significant planetary wave activity in the upper mesosphere and illustrate one such event.