The stratosphere: dynamics and variability
- Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC), Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
Abstract. Large-scale, intra-seasonal to inter-annual variability of the stratosphere is reviewed. Much of the variability is dynamical and induced by waves emanating from the troposphere. It is largely characterised by fluctuations in the strength of the polar vortex in winter and a quasi-biennial oscillation in the equatorial winds. Existing theories for the variability are generally formulated in terms of wave mean flow interactions, with refinements due, in part, to teleconnections between the tropics and extratropics. Climate and seasonal forecast models are able to reproduce much of the observed polar stratospheric variability and are increasingly successful in the tropics too. Compared to the troposphere the models display longer predictability timescales for variations within the stratosphere. Despite containing just under 20 % of the atmosphere's mass the stratosphere's variability exerts a powerful downward influence on the troposphere that can affect surface extremes. The stratosphere is therefore a useful source of additional skill for surface predictions. However, a complete dynamical explanation for the downward coupling is yet to be established.
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