Articles | Volume 11, issue 22
Research article
17 Nov 2011
Research article |  | 17 Nov 2011

The Arctic vortex in March 2011: a dynamical perspective

M. M. Hurwitz, P. A. Newman, and C. I. Garfinkel

Abstract. Despite the record ozone loss observed in March 2011, dynamical conditions in the Arctic stratosphere were unusual but not unprecedented. Weak planetary wave driving in February preceded cold anomalies in the polar lower stratosphere in March and a relatively late breakup of the Arctic vortex in April. La Niña conditions and the westerly phase of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) were observed in March 2011. Though these conditions are generally associated with a stronger vortex in mid-winter, the respective cold anomalies do not persist through March. Therefore, the La Niña and QBO-westerly conditions cannot explain the observed cold anomalies in March 2011. In contrast, positive sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Pacific may have contributed to the unusually weak tropospheric wave driving and strong Arctic vortex in late winter 2011.

Final-revised paper