Stratospheric wave-mean flow feedbacks in a simple model forced by upward wave activity flux and in an idealized general circulation model

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 9:30 AM
212A West Building (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jeremiah P. Sjoberg, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; and T. Birner

A classic result of studying stratospheric wave-mean flow interactions due to Holton and Mass (1976) is that for constant incoming wave forcing, at a notional tropopause, a vacillating stratospheric response may ensue. Simple models, such as the Holton-Mass model, typically prescribe the incoming wave forcing in terms of geopotential perturbations, which is not a proxy for upward wave activity flux. Here, we present a reformulation of the Holton-Mass model in which the incoming upward wave activity flux is prescribed.

The Holton-Mass model contains a positive wave-mean flow feedback whereby wave forcing decelerates the mean flow, allowing enhanced wave propagation, which then further decelerates the mean flow, etc., until the mean flow no longer supports wave propagation. By specifying incoming wave activity flux, we constrain this feedback to the model interior. Bistability where the zonal wind may exist at one of two distinct steady states for a given incoming wave forcing is maintained in this reformulated model. We perturb the model with transient pulses of upward wave activity flux to produce transitions between the two stable states. A minimum of integrated incoming wave activity flux necessary to force these sudden stratospheric warming-like transitions exists for pulses with time scales on the order of 10 days, arising from a wave time scale internal to the model at which forcing produces the strongest mean flow response. We examine how the tropopause affects the internal feedback for this model setup and find that the tropopause inversion layer may potentially provide an important source of wave activity in the lower stratosphere. These aspects of stratospheric wave-mean flow feedbacks are additionally explored in an idealized general circulation model forced zonal topography.