30 Nov 2021
30 Nov 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal WCD.

Stratospheric Modulation of Arctic Oscillation Extremes as Represented by Extended-Range Ensemble Forecasts

Jonas Spaeth and Thomas Birner Jonas Spaeth and Thomas Birner
  • Meteorological Institute Munich, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Abstract. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) describes a seesaw pattern of variations in atmospheric mass over the polar cap. It is by now well established that the AO pattern is in part determined by the state of the stratosphere. In particular, sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) are known to nudge the tropospheric circulation toward a more negative phase of the AO, which is associated with a more equatorward shifted jet and enhanced likelihood for blocking and cold air outbreaks in mid-latitudes. SSWs are also thought to contribute to the occurrence of extreme AO events. However, statistically robust results about such extremes are difficult to obtain from observations or meteorological (re-)analyses due to the limited sample size of SSW events in the observational record (roughly 6 SSWs per decade). Here we exploit a large set of extended-range ensemble forecasts within the subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) framework to obtain an improved characterization of the modulation of AO extremes due to stratosphere-troposphere coupling. Specifically, we greatly boost the sample size of stratospheric events by using potential SSWs (p-SSWs), i.e., SSWs that are predicted to occur in individual forecast ensemble members regardless of whether they actually occurred in the real atmosphere. For example, for the ECMWF S2S ensemble this gives us a total of 6101 p-SSW events for the period 1997–2021.

A standard lag-composite analysis around these p-SSWs validates our approach, i.e., the associated composite evolution of stratosphere-troposphere coupling matches the known evolution based on reanalyses data around real SSW events. Our statistical analyses further reveal that following p-SSWs, relative to climatology: 1) persistently negative AO states (> 1 week duration) are 16 % more likely, 2) the likelihood for extremely negative AO states (< −3σ) is enhanced by at least 35 %, while that for extremely positive AO states (> +3σ) is reduced to almost zero, 3) a p-SSW preceding an extremely negative AO state within 4 weeks is causal for this AO extreme (in a statistical sense) up to a degree of 27 %. A corresponding analysis relative to strong stratospheric vortex events reveals similar insights into the stratospheric modulation of positive AO extremes.

Jonas Spaeth and Thomas Birner

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wcd-2021-77', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Dec 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on wcd-2021-77', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Jan 2022
  • EC1: 'Comment on wcd-2021-77', Nili Harnik, 17 Jan 2022
  • AC1: 'Comment on wcd-2021-77', Jonas Spaeth, 09 Feb 2022

Jonas Spaeth and Thomas Birner

Jonas Spaeth and Thomas Birner


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Short summary
Past research has shown that tropospheric and stratospheric dynamics in the mid-latitude are to some extent coupled. In this study, we greatly increase the underlying event sample sizes by basing the analyses not on observations, but on forecast model output. It is shown that stratospheric extremes increase the risk for subsequent tropospheric extreme events. Furthermore, it is quantified how many tropospheric extremes are caused by preceding stratospheric extremes.