Effect of latitudinally displaced gravity wave forcing in the lower stratosphere on the polar vortex stability

Samtleben, Nadja; Jacobi, Christoph; Pišoft, Petr; Šácha, Petr; Kuchař, Aleš

In order to investigate the impact of a locally confined gravity wave (GW) hotspot, a sensitivity study based on simulations of the middle atmosphere circulation during northern winter was performed with a nonlinear, mechanistic, general circulation model. To this end, we selected a fixed longitude range in the East Asian region (120–170∘ E) and a latitude range from 22.5 to 52.5∘ N between 18 and 30 km for the hotspot region, which was then shifted northward in steps of 5∘. For the southernmost hotspots, we observe a decreased stationary planetary wave (SPW) with wave number 1 (SPW 1) activity in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere, i.e., fewer SPWs 1 are propagating upwards. These GW hotspots lead to a negative refractive index, inhibiting SPW propagation at midlatitudes. The decreased SPW 1 activity is connected to an increased zonal mean zonal wind at lower latitudes. This, in turn, decreases the meridional potential vorticity gradient (qy) from midlatitudes towards the polar region. A reversed qy indicates local baroclinic instability, which generates SPWs with wave number 1 in the polar region, where we observe a strong positive Eliassen–Palm (EP) divergence. As a result, the EP flux increases towards the polar stratosphere (corresponding to enhanced SPW 1 amplitudes), where the SPWs with wave number 1 break, and the zonal mean zonal wind decreases. Thus, the local GW forcing leads to a displacement of the polar vortex towards lower latitudes. The effect of the local baroclinic instability indicated by the reversed qy also produces SPWs with wave number 1 in the lower mesosphere. The effect on the dynamics in the middle atmosphere due to GW hotspots that are located northward of 50∘ N is negligible, as the refractive index of the atmosphere is strongly negative in the polar region. Thus, any changes in the SPW activity due to the local GW forcing are quite ineffective.



Samtleben, Nadja / Jacobi, Christoph / Pišoft, Petr / et al: Effect of latitudinally displaced gravity wave forcing in the lower stratosphere on the polar vortex stability. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


Rechteinhaber: Nadja Samtleben et al.

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