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Dynamical Elliptical Diagnostics of the Antarctic Polar Vortex

Mester, M; Esler, JG; (2020) Dynamical Elliptical Diagnostics of the Antarctic Polar Vortex. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences , 77 (3) pp. 1167-1180. 10.1175/jas-d-19-0232.1. Green open access

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Abstract

Elliptical diagnostics provide dynamical and climatological information about the behavior of the Arctic and Antarctic stratospheric polar vortices. Here Kida’s model, describing the evolution of a uniform vortex in a linear, but possibly unsteady, background flow, is used to interpret the observed evolution of the Antarctic vortex in late winter during 1999–2018. Kida’s model has oscillatory solutions that can undergo an amplitude bifurcation, which serves as a simple model for the onset of vortex-splitting stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs). A data assimilation method is used to find solutions of Kida’s equations consistent with the observations. A phase-plane analysis reveals large interannual variability in the amplitude of oscillations of the vortex. In 2002, the year of the only observed vortex-splitting Antarctic SSW, the system is found to cross a separatrix in phase space, associated with the SSW amplitude bifurcation, in late September. An output of the data assimilation is the linear background flow experienced by the vortex. The rotational component of this linear flow is consistent with the vortex being embedded in an anticyclonic background. The time-mean strain flow is weak but has a clear orientation, consistent with the presence of stationary forcing due to planetary-scale topography and land–sea contrast. The time-varying strain flow is comparatively large in magnitude, illustrating the relative importance of the planetary-scale component of the turbulent dynamics occurring at tropopause level. Unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, therefore, the direction of future Antarctic vortex splits will not necessarily align with the direction of the 2002 split.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamical Elliptical Diagnostics of the Antarctic Polar Vortex
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1175/jas-d-19-0232.1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1175/jas-d-19-0232.1
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Rossby waves; Stratosphere-troposphere coupling; Nonlinear models
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Mathematics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093630
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