Stratosphere-troposphere coupling in a relatively simple AGCM: The importance of stratospheric variability

Edwin P. Gerber, Lorenzo M. Polvani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of stratospheric variability on the dynamical coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere is explored in a relatively simple atmospheric general circulation model. Variability of the model's stratospheric polar vortex, or polar night jet, is induced by topographically forced stationary waves. A robust relationship is found between the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex and the latitude of the tropospheric jet, confirming and extending earlier results in the absence of stationary waves. In both the climatological mean and on intraseasonal time scales, a weaker vortex is associated with an equatorward shift in the tropospheric jet and vice versa. It is found that the mean structure and variability of the vortex in the model is very sensitive to the amplitude of the topography and that Northern Hemisphere-like variability, with a realistic frequency of stratospheric sudden warming events, occurs only for a relatively narrow range of topographic heights. When the model captures sudden warming events with fidelity, however, the exchange of information both upward and downward between the troposphere and stratosphere closely resembles that in observations. The influence of stratospheric variability on variability in the troposphere is demonstrated by comparing integrations with and without an active stratosphere. A realistic, time-dependent stratospheric circulation increases the persistence of the tropospheric annular modes, and the dynamical coupling is most apparent prior to and following stratospheric sudden warming events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1920-1933
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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