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Journal Article

Stratospheric climate and variability from a general circulation model and observations


Manzini,  Elisa
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

Bengtsson,  Lennart
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Manzini, E., & Bengtsson, L. (1996). Stratospheric climate and variability from a general circulation model and observations. Climate Dynamics, 12, 615-639. doi:10.1007/BF00216270.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-76F3-7
The climate and natural variability of the large-scale stratospheric circulation simulated by a newly developed general circulation model are evaluated against available global observations. The simulation consisted of a 30-year annual cycle integration performed with a comprehensive model of the troposphere and stratosphere. The observations consisted of a 15-year dataset from global operational analyses of the troposphere and stratosphere. The model evaluation concentrates on the simulation of the evolution of the extratropical stratospheric circulation in both hemispheres. The December-February climatology of the observed zonal mean winter circulation is found to be reasonably well captured by the model, although in the Northern Hemisphere upper stratosphere the simulated westerly winds are systematically stronger and a cold bias is apparent in the polar stratosphere. This Northern Hemisphere stratospheric cold bias virtually disappears during spring (March-May), consistent with a realistic simulation of the spring weakening of the mean westerly winds in the model. A considerable amount of monthly interannual variability is also found in the simulation in the Northern Hemisphere in late winter and early spring. The simulated interannual variability is predominantly caused by polar warmings of the stratosphere, in agreement with observations. The breakdown of the Northern Hemisphere stratospheric polar vortex appears therefore to occur in a realistic way in the model. However, in early winter the model severely underestimates the interannual variability, especially in the upper troposphere. The Southern Hemisphere winter (June-August) zonal mean temperature is systematically colder in the model, and the simulated winds are somewhat too strong in the upper stratosphere. Contrary to the results for the Northern Hemisphere spring, this model cold bias worsens during the Southern Hemisphere spring (September-November). Significant discrepancies between the model results and the observations are therefore found during the breakdown of the Southern Hemisphere polar vortex. For instance, the simulated Southern Hemisphere stratospheric westerly jet continuously decreases in intensity more or less in situ from June to November, while the observed stratospheric jet moves downward and poleward.