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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17726

Title: Influence of the Quasi-biennial Oscillation on Interannual Variability in the Northern Hemisphere Winter Stratosphere
Authors: Anstey, James Alexander
Advisor: Shepherd, Theodore G.
Department: Physics
Keywords: Middle atmosphere dynamics
Quasi-biennial oscillation
Issue Date: 23-Sep-2009
Abstract: Observations show that the interannual variability of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropical winter stratosphere is strongly correlated with the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) of tropical stratospheric winds, particularly during early winter. Most current general circulation models (GCMs) do not exhibit a QBO and therefore do not represent this important mode of tropical-extratropical interaction. In this study we examine the QBO-extratropical correlation using a 150-year GCM simulation in which a QBO occurs. Since no external forcings or interannual variations in sea surface temperatures are imposed, the modelled tropical-extratropical interactions represent an internal mode of atmospheric variability. The QBO itself is spontaneously forced by a combination of resolved and parameterized waves. The effects of this QBO on the climatological mean state and its interannual variability are considered, both by comparison with a control simulation (also 150 years in length, but with no QBO) and by compositing winters according to the phase of the QBO. Careful attention is given to the definition of QBO phase. Comparisons of the model results with observations (reanalysis data) are also made. QBO-induced changes in the climatological state of the model are found to have high statistical significance above the tropopause. In the extratropical winter stratosphere, these mean-state changes arise predominantly from the influence of the QBO on the propagation and dissipation of planetary-scale waves. This behaviour is shown to depend on the seasonal cycle, which argues for the usefulness of considering tropical-extratropical interactions in a GCM context. QBO influence on the interannual variability of the extratropical winter stratosphere is also seasonal, and the tropical-extratropical interaction is sensitive to the phase alignment of the QBO with respect to the annual cycle. This phase alignment is strongly affected by the seasonality of QBO phase transitions, which - due to the QBO being spontaneously generated, rather than having an imposed period - is somewhat realistic in the model. This leads to fluctuations in the strength of the modelled tropical-extratropical interaction occurring on a decadal timescale as an internal mode of atmospheric variability.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17726
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Physics - Doctoral theses

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