Sensitivity of stratospheric dynamics and chemistry to QBO nudging width in the chemistry‒climate model WACCM

Peer Reviewed

Hansen F, Matthes K, & Gray LJ

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 118, Issue 18, pages 10464–10474, 2013, 10.1002/jgrd.50812.

The consequences of different quasi‒biennial oscillation (QBO) nudging widths on stratospheric dynamics and chemistry are analyzed by comparing two model simulations with the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) where the width of the QBO is varied between 22° and 8.5° north and south. The sensitivity to the nudging width is strongest in Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter where the Holton‒Tan effect in the polar stratosphere, i.e., stronger zonal mean winds during QBO west phases, is enhanced for the wider compared to the narrower nudging case. The differences between QBO west and east conditions for the two model experiments can be explained with differences in wave propagation, wave‒mean flow interaction, and the residual circulation. In the wider nudging case, a divergence anomaly in the midlatitude upper stratosphere/lower mesosphere occurs together with an equatorward anomaly of the residual circulation. This seems to result in a strengthening of the meridional temperature gradient and hence a significant strengthening of the polar night jet (PNJ). In the narrower nudging case, these circulation changes are weaker and not statistically significant, consistent with a weaker and less significant impact on the PNJ. Chemical tracers like ozone, water vapor, and methane react accordingly. From a comparison of westerly minus easterly phase composite differences in the model to reanalysis and satellite data, we conclude that the standard WACCM configuration (QBO22) generates more realistic QBO effects in stratospheric dynamics and chemistry during NH winter. Our study also confirms the importance of the secondary mean meridional circulation associated with the QBO for the Holton‒Tan effect.

Keywords: Quasi‒biennial oscillation, QBO nudging, Holton‒Tan mechanism, Stratospheric dynamics and chemistry, Stratospheric modeling
Categories: Arctic, Natural Science