Dynamics of Stratospheric Sudden Warming Events: Data Analysis and Modelling
Beaumont, Robin Nicholas
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers consisting of parts of the thesis
The polar vortex is a large scale cyclone located in the middle atmosphere near to the planet’s geographic poles. These vortices form during the hemispheric winter and break down in the spring of the following year. They may also break down in mid winter, causing a sudden stratospheric warming event (SSW). The vortex is thought to be preconditioned leading up to these warming events, resulting in the breakdown of the vortex. Integral diagnostics are used to investigate the stripping of air from the vortex as part of this preconditioning. Contour diagnostics of mass and circulation are calculated using ERA-40 reanalysis data for the stratosphere. The edge of the vortex is easily identifiable in these diagnostics as a high gradient of Ertel’s potential vorticity (PV), and the warming events are also clearly visible. From these the amount of air removed from the vortex is determined from the balance equation of the mass integral. These terms show that there are significant amounts of air removed from the vortex, with several stripping events identifiable in them through the winter, especially in those during which a major sudden warming event occurred. These stripping events can be seen in corresponding PV maps, where tongues of PV can be seen to be stripped from the vortex and mixed into the surrounding surf zone of turbulent air. From the integral diagnostics a Lagrangian measure of the meridional circulation in the stratosphere is also calculated. In the final part of the thesis a shallow water model is used to investigate a quantitative link between forcing and the amount of stripping of the vortex. It is found that when the forcing is large enough there is significant stripping of mass from the vortex. This does not lead to SSWs in all cases, and the total amount of stripping is not found to be proportional to the maximum amplitude of the forcing.
PhD in Mathematics