The influence of solar variability and the quasi-biennial oscillation on sea level pressure
Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, UK
Abstract. We investigate an apparent inconsistency between two published results concerning the temperature of the winter polar stratosphere and its dependence on the state of the Sun and the phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). We find that the differences can be explained by the use of the authors of different pressure levels to define the phase of the QBO.
We identify QBO and solar cycle signals in sea level pressure (SLP) data using a multiple linear regression approach. First we used a standard QBO time series dating back to 1953. In the SLP observations dating back to that time we find at high latitudes that individually the solar and QBO signals are weak but that a temporal index representing the combined effects of the Sun and the QBO shows a significant signal. This is such that combinations of low solar activity with westerly QBO and high solar activity with easterly QBO are both associated with a strengthening in the polar modes; while the opposite combinations coincide with a weakening. This result is true irrespective of the choice of QBO pressure level. By employing a QBO dataset reconstructed back to 1900, we extended the analysis and also find a robust signal in the surface SAM; though weaker for surface NAM.
Our results suggest that solar variability, modulated by the phase of QBO, influences zonal mean temperatures at high latitudes in the lower stratosphere and subsequently affect sea level pressure near the poles. Thus a knowledge of the state of the Sun, and the phase of the QBO might be useful in surface climate prediction.