Assessing and Understanding the Impact of Stratospheric Dynamics and Variability on the Earth System

Published in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2012

Gerber, E. P., A. Butler, N. Calvo, A. Charlton-Perez, M. Giorgetta, E. Manzini, J. Perlwitz, L. M. Polvani, F. Sassi, A. A. Scaife, T. A. Shaw, S.-W. Son and S. Watanabe, 2012: Assessing and Understanding the Impact of Stratospheric Dynamics and Variability on the Earth System. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 845-859, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00145.1.

Official version

Advances in weather and climate research have demonstrated the role of the stratosphere in the Earth system across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Stratospheric ozone loss has been identified as a key driver of Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation trends, affecting ocean currents and carbon uptake, sea ice, and possibly even the Antarctic ice sheets. Stratospheric variability has also been shown to affect short-term and seasonal forecasts, connecting the tropics and midlatitudes and guiding storm-track dynamics. The two-way interactions between the stratosphere and the Earth system have motivated the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP) Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate’s (SPARC) activity on Modelling the Dynamics and Variability of the Stratosphere-Troposphere System (DynVar) to investigate the impact of stratospheric dynamics and variability on climate. This assessment will be made possible by two new multimodel datasets. First, roughly 10 models with a well-resolved stratosphere are participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5), providing the first multimodel ensemble of climate simulations coupled from the stratopause to the sea floor. Second, the Stratosphere Resolving Historical Forecast Project (Strat-HFP) of WCRP’s Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) program is forming a multimodel set of seasonal hind-casts with stratosphere-resolving models, revealing the impact of both stratospheric initial conditions and dynamics on intraseasonal prediction. The CMIP5 and Strat-HFP model datasets will offer an unprecedented opportunity to understand the role of the stratosphere in the natural and forced variability of the Earth system and to determine whether incorporating knowledge of the middle atmosphere improves seasonal forecasts and climate projections.