A possible transfer mechanism for the 11-year solar cycle to the lower stratosphere

Peer Reviewed

Gray LJ, Crooks SA, Palmer MA, Pascoe CL, & Sparrow S

Space Science Reviews 125, Issue 1-4, pages 357-370, 2006, 10.1007/s11214-006-9069-y.

Observational evidence of the 11-year solar cycle (SC) modulation of stratosphere temperatures and winds from the ERA-40 dataset is reviewed, with emphasis on the Northern winter hemisphere. A frequency modulation of sudden warming events is noted, with warmings occurring earlier in solar minimum periods than in solar maximum periods. The observed interaction between the influence of the SC and the quasi biennial oscillation (QBO) on the frequency of sudden warmings is noted as a possible clue for understanding their mechanism of influence. A possible transfer route for the 11-year solar cycle from the equatorial stratopause region to the lowest part of the stratosphere is proposed, via an influence on sudden warming events and the associated induced meridional circulation. SC and QBO composites of zonal wind anomalies show anomalous wind distributions in the subtropical upper stratosphere in early winter. Mechanistic model experiments are reviewed that demonstrate a sensitivity of sudden warmings to small wind anomalies in this region. Various diagnostics from these experiments are shown, including EP fluxes and their divergence and also the synoptic evolution of the polar vortex, in order to understand the mechanism of the influence. Some recent GCM experiments to investigate the SC/QBO interaction are also described. They simulate reasonably well the observed SC/QBO interaction of sudden warming events and appear to support the hypothesis that tropical/subtropical upper stratospheric wind anomalies are an important influence on the timing of sudden warmings.

Keywords: Stratosphere, Quasi biennial oscillation, QBO, Solar cycle, Atmosphere, Stratospheric sudden warming
Categories: Arctic, Natural Science