Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Comparison of U.K. Meteorological Office and U.S. National Meteorological Center stratospheric analyses during northern and southern winter


  • G. L. Manney,

  • R. Swinbank,

  • S. T. Massie,

  • M. E. Gelman,

  • A. J. Miller,

  • R. Nagatani,

  • A. O'Neill,

  • R. W. Zurek


Meteorological data from the United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO), produced using a data assimilation system, and the U.S. National Meteorological Center (NMC), produced using an objective analysis procedure, are compared for dynamically active periods during the Arctic and Antarctic winters of 1992. The differences seen during these periods are generally similar to those seen during other winter periods. Both UKMO and NMC analyses capture the large-scale evolution of the stratospheric circulation during northern hemisphere (NH) and southern hemisphere (SH) winters. Stronger vertical and horizontal temperature gradients develop in the UKMO than in the NMC data during stratospheric warmings; comparison with satellite measurements with better vertical resolution suggests that the stronger vertical temperature gradients are more realistic. The NH polar vortex is slightly stronger in the UKMO analyses than in the NMC in the middle and upper stratosphere, and midstratospheric temperatures are slightly lower. The SH polar vortex as represented in the UKMO analyses is stronger and colder in the midstratosphere than its representation in the NMC analyses. The UKMO analyses on occasion exhibit some difficulties in representing cross-polar flow or changes in curvature of the wind field at very high latitudes. In addition to the above study of two wintertime periods, a more detailed comparison of lower-stratospheric temperatures is done for all Arctic and Antarctic winter periods since the launch of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. In the NH lower stratosphere during winter, NMC temperatures are consistently lower than UKMO temperatures and closer to radiosonde temperatures than are UKMO temperatures. Conversely, in the SH lower stratosphere during winter, UKMO temperatures are typically lower than NMC and are closer to radiosonde temperature observations.