On the lack of stratospheric dynamical variability in low-top versions of the CMIP5 models

Andrew J. Charlton-Perez, Mark P. Baldwin, Thomas Birner, Robert X. Black, Amy H. Butler, Natalia Calvo, Nicholas A. Davis, Edwin P. Gerber, Nathan Gillett, Steven Hardiman, Junsu Kim, Kirstin Krüger, Yun Young Lee, Elisa Manzini, Brent A. McDaniel, Lorenzo Polvani, Thomas Reichler, Tiffany A. Shaw, Michael Sigmond, Seok Woo SonMatthew Toohey, Laura Wilcox, Shigeo Yoden, Bo Christiansen, François Lott, Drew Shindell, Seiji Yukimoto, Shingo Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe the main differences in simulations of stratospheric climate and variability by models within the fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) that have a model top above the stratopause and relatively fine stratospheric vertical resolution (high-top), and those that have a model top below the stratopause (low-top). Although the simulation of mean stratospheric climate by the two model ensembles is similar, the low-top model ensemble has very weak stratospheric variability on daily and interannual time scales. The frequency of major sudden stratospheric warming events is strongly underestimated by the low-top models with less than half the frequency of events observed in the reanalysis data and high-top models. The lack of stratospheric variability in the low-top models affects their stratosphere-troposphere coupling, resulting in short-lived anomalies in the Northern Annular Mode, which do not produce long-lasting tropospheric impacts, as seen in observations. The lack of stratospheric variability, however, does not appear to have any impact on the ability of the low-top models to reproduce past stratospheric temperature trends. We find little improvement in the simulation of decadal variability for the high-top models compared to the low-top, which is likely related to the fact that neither ensemble produces a realistic dynamical response to volcanic eruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2494-2505
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 27 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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