Case Studies of the Mesospheric Response to Recent Minor, Major, and Extended Stratospheric Warmings
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC SPACE SCIENCE DIV
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We have studied the mesospheric response to two recent stratospheric warmings by performing short-term forecasts at medium 1.5 degrees and high 0.5 degrees spatial resolution under different gravity wave drag GWD scenarios. We validated our models with our highaltitude analysis that extends from 0 to 90 km. For the minor warming of January 2008, reduced upper-level orographic GWD weakened the downward residual circulation and cooled the mesosphere. Parameterized nonorographic GWD increased the simulated mesospheric cooling. For the prolonged major warming of 2006, heavily attenuated orographic GWD led to pronounced cooling near 50 km. During the extended phase of this event, an unusually strong westerly polar vortex reformed in the lower mesosphere, which allowed westward propagating nonorographic gravity waves to reach the mesosphere and break, with net westward accelerations of over 50ms d. This, in turn, forced a strong residual circulation, yielding descent velocities over 2 cms between 65 degrees N and 85 degrees N, consistent with previous reports of enhanced downward transport of trace constituents. The resulting adiabatic heating, as evidenced by the unusually vertically displaced stratopause at 80 km, is likely a direct consequence of this enhanced gravity wave driven descent. High-resolution simulations without parameterized GWD were closer to the analysis than medium-resolution simulations with parameterized orographic GWD only, but still did not fully simulate the mesospheric thermal response. Specifically, the 80 km temperature enhancement was still underestimated in these simulations. This suggests that higher spatial resolution is needed to adequately resolve extratropical gravity wave momentum fluxes.
- Atmospheric Physics