The atmospheric response to Arctic sea ice loss remains a subject of much debate. Most studies have focused on the sea ice retreat in the Barents-Kara Seas and its troposphere-stratosphere influence. Here, we investigate the impact of large sea ice loss over the Chukchi-Bering Seas on the sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) phenomenon during the easterly phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation through idealized large-ensemble experiments based on a global atmospheric model with a well-resolved stratosphere. Although culminating in autumn, the prescribed sea ice loss induces near-surface warming that persists into winter and deepens as the SSW develops. The resulting temperature contrasts foster a deep cyclonic circulation over the North Pacific, which elicits a strong upward wavenumber-2 activity into the stratosphere, reinforcing the climatological planetary wave pattern. While not affecting the SSW occurrence frequency, the amplified wave forcing in the stratosphere significantly increases the SSW duration and intensity, enhancing cold air outbreaks over the continents afterward.
The frequency of stratospheric sudden warming events (SSWs) is an important characteristic of the coupled stratosphere–troposphere system. However, many modern climate models are unable to reproduce the observed SSW frequency. A previous study suggested that one of the reasons could be the momentum damping at the surface. The goal of the present study is to understand what determines the climatological SSW frequency and how the surface damping comes into play. To this end, we conduct a parameter sweep with an idealized model, using a wide range of values for the surface damping. It is found that the SSW frequency is a strong and nonlinear function of the surface damping. Various tropospheric and stratospheric factors are identified to link the surface damping to the SSW frequency. The factors include the magnitude of the surface winds, the meridional and vertical wind shear, the synoptic eddy activity in the troposphere, the transient wave activity flux at the lower stratosphere, and the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex. Mathematical–statistical modeling, informed by the parameter sweep, is used to quantify how the different factors relate to each other. This successfully reproduces the complex variations of the SSW frequency with the surface damping seen in the parameter sweep. The results may help in explaining some of the difficulties that climate models have in simulating the observed SSW frequency.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- American Meteorological Society
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 4753-4766
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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