Articles | Volume 12, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3659–3675, 2012

Special issue: Chemistry, microphysics and dynamics of the polar stratosphere:...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3659–3675, 2012

Research article 19 Apr 2012

Research article | 19 Apr 2012

The 2009–2010 Arctic stratospheric winter – general evolution, mountain waves and predictability of an operational weather forecast model

A. Dörnbrack1, M. C. Pitts2, L. R. Poole3, Y. J. Orsolini4, K. Nishii5, and H. Nakamura5 A. Dörnbrack et al.
  • 1Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, 82230 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia 23681, USA
  • 3Science Systems and Applications, Incorporated, Hampton, Virginia 23666, USA
  • 4Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
  • 5Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Abstract. The relatively warm 2009–2010 Arctic winter was an exceptional one as the North Atlantic Oscillation index attained persistent extreme negative values. Here, selected aspects of the Arctic stratosphere during this winter inspired by the analysis of the international field experiment RECONCILE are presented. First of all, and as a kind of reference, the evolution of the polar vortex in its different phases is documented. Special emphasis is put on explaining the formation of the exceptionally cold vortex in mid winter after a sequence of stratospheric disturbances which were caused by upward propagating planetary waves. A major sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) occurring near the end of January 2010 concluded the anomalous cold vortex period. Wave ice polar stratospheric clouds were frequently observed by spaceborne remote-sensing instruments over the Arctic during the cold period in January 2010. Here, one such case observed over Greenland is analysed in more detail and an attempt is made to correlate flow information of an operational numerical weather prediction model to the magnitude of the mountain-wave induced temperature fluctuations. Finally, it is shown that the forecasts of the ECMWF ensemble prediction system for the onset of the major SSW were very skilful and the ensemble spread was very small. However, the ensemble spread increased dramatically after the major SSW, displaying the strong non-linearity and internal variability involved in the SSW event.

Final-revised paper