Articles | Volume 16, issue 1
31 Jan 1998
31 Jan 1998

Solar cycle changes to planetary wave propagation and their influence on the middle atmosphere circulation

N. F. Arnold and T. R. Robinson

Abstract. Recent observations suggest that there may be a causal relationship between solar activity and the strength of the winter Northern Hemisphere circulation in the stratosphere. A three-dimensional model of the atmosphere between 10–140 km was developed to assess the influence of solar minimum and solar maximum conditions on the propagation of planetary waves and the subsequent changes to the circulation of the stratosphere. Ultraviolet heating in the middle atmosphere was kept constant in order to emphasise the importance of non-linear dynamical coupling. A realistic thermosphere was achieved by relaxing the upper layers to the MSIS-90 empirical temperature model. In the summer hemisphere, strong radiative damping prevents significant dynamical coupling from taking place. Within the dynamically controlled winter hemisphere, small perturbations are reinforced over long periods of time, resulting in systematic changes to the stratospheric circulation. The winter vortex was significantly weakened during solar maximum and western phase of the quasi-biennial oscillation, in accordance with reported 30 mb geopotential height and total ozone measurements.

Key words. Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics (Climatology; Middle atmosphere dynamics; waves and tides)