Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 11649-11690, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
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Climatology and trends in the forcing of the stratospheric zonal-mean flow
E. Monier1 and B. C. Weare2
1Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
2Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, California, USA

Abstract. The momentum budget of the Transformed Eulerian-Mean (TEM) equation is calculated using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40). This study outlines the considerable contribution of unresolved waves, dominated by gravity waves, to the forcing of the zonal-mean flow. A trend analysis, from 1980 to 2001, shows that the onset and break down of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) stratospheric polar night jet has a tendency to occur later. This temporal shift is associated with long-term changes in the planetary wave activity that are mainly due to synoptic waves. In the Southern Hemisphere (SH), the polar vortex shows a tendency to persist further into the SH summertime. This is associated with a statistically significant decrease in the intensity of the stationary EP flux divergence over the 1980–2001 period. Ozone depletion is well known for strengthening westerly winds through the thermal wind balance, which in turn causes a reduction in wave activity in high latitudes. This study suggests that the decrease in planetary wave activity provides an important feedback to the zonal wind as it delays the breakdown of the polar vortex. Finally, we identify long-term changes in the Brewer-Dobson circulation that, this study suggests, are largely caused by trends in the planetary wave activity during winter and by trends in the gravity wave forcing otherwise.

Citation: Monier, E. and Weare, B. C.: Climatology and trends in the forcing of the stratospheric zonal-mean flow, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 11649-11690, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-11649-2011, 2011.
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