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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-881
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-881
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  28 Sep 2020

28 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

The advective Brewer-Dobson circulation in the ERA5 reanalysis: variability and trends

Mohamadou Diallo1, Manfred Ern1, and Felix Ploeger1,2 Mohamadou Diallo et al.
  • 1Institute of Energy and Climate Research, Stratosphere (IEK–7), Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52 425 Jülich, Germany
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Research, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany

Abstract. The stratospheric Brewer-Dobson circulation (BDC) is an important element of climate as it determines the transport and distributions of key radiatively active atmospheric trace gases, which affect the Earth’s radiation budget and surface climate.

Here, we evaluate the inter-annual variability and trends of the BDC in the ERA5 reanalysis and inter-compare with the ERA-Interim reanalysis for the 1979–2018 period. We also assess the modulation of the circulation by the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the forcings of the circulation by the planetary and gravity wave drag. A comparison of ERA5 and ERA-Interim reanalyses shows a very good agreement in the morphology of the BDC and in its structural modulations by the natural variability related to QBO and ENSO. Despite the good agreement in the spatial structure, there are substantial differences in the strength of the BDC and of the natural variability impacts on the BDC between the two reanalyses, particularly in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), and in the upper stratosphere. Throughout most regions of the stratosphere, the variability and trends of the advective BDC are stronger in the ERA5 reanalysis due to stronger planetary and gravity wave forcings, except in the UTLS below 20 km where the tropical upwelling is about 40 % weaker due to a weaker gravity wave forcings at the equatorial flank of the subtropical jet. In the extra-tropics, the large-scale downwelling is stronger in ERA5 than in ERA-Interim linked to significant differences in planetary and gravity wave forcings. Analysis of the BDC trend shows a global acceleration of the annual mean residual circulation with an acceleration rate of about 1.5 % per decade at 70 hPa due to the long-term intensification in gravity and planetary wave breaking, consistent with observed and future climate model predicted BDC changes.

Mohamadou Diallo et al.

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Mohamadou Diallo et al.

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Short summary
Despite the good agreement in the spatial structure, there are substantial differences in the strength of the BDC and its modulations in the UTLS and upper stratosphere. The BDC and its induced-modulations by the natural variability are generally stronger in the ERA5 reanalysis due to stronger planetary and gravity wave drags. Analysis of the BDC trend shows an acceleration of the BDC of about 1.5%/decade due to the long-term intensification in wave breaking, consistent with climate predictions.
Despite the good agreement in the spatial structure, there are substantial differences in the...
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