Vortex Erosion in a Shallow Water Model of the Polar Vortex
Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
Open Access funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under a Creative Commons license
The erosion of a model stratospheric polar vortex in response to bottom boundary forcing is investigated numerically. Stripping of filaments of air from the polar vortex has been implicated in the occurrence of stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs) but it is not understood in detail what factors determine the rate and amount of stripping. Here a shallow water vortex forced by topography is used to investigate the factors initiating stripping and whether this leads the vortex to undergo an SSW. It is found that the amplitude of topographic forcing must exceed some threshold (of order 200–450 m) in order for significant stripping to occur. For larger forcing amplitudes significant stripping occurs, but not as an instantaneous response to the forcing; rather, the forcing appears to initiate a process that ultimately results in stripping several tens of days later. There appears to be no simple quantitative relationship between the amount of mass stripped and the topography amplitude. However, at least over the early stages of the experiments, there is a good correlation between the amount of mass stripped and the global integral of wave activity, which may be interpreted as a measure of the accumulated topographic forcing. Finally there does not appear to be a simple correspondence between amount of mass stripped and the occurrence of an SSW.
Robin Beaumont was supported during this research with a PhD studentship funded by an EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 78. pp. 137–151