Interannual Zonal Variability of the Coupled Stratosphere-Troposphere Climate System
Whitesides, Benton W.
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Understanding the dynamical relationships between low frequency forcings and the interannual variability of the Earths atmosphere is critical for accurate extended-range forecasts and climate prediction. This thesis investigates possible dynamical couplings between the stratosphere and troposphere by implementing lagged multivariate linear regressions. These regressions were chosen to untangle the separate responses of distinct atmospheric forcings upon zonal mean climate variability. The regressions incorporate monthly meteorological data with indices of four dominant forcings of low frequency atmospheric variability: the El Nino Southern Oscillation, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, the 11-year solar cycle, and volcanic activity. The analysis uses data from both the NCAR/NCEP and ECMWF reanalyses for two distinct time periods to expose possible satellite measurement influences. One period consists of all data since 1958, while the other period includes only data since 1979, a period of extensive satellite observations. Diagnostic tools include piecewise potential vorticity inversions, an assessment of anomalous Eliassen-Palm fluxes, stream function analyses, and general circulation model diagnoses. The examination reveals robust patterns associated with each forcing, consistent with existing theories in climate dynamics of the coupling mechanisms between the stratosphere and the troposphere. To better predict climate variability, however, the next step is to investigate the nonlinearities known to play an important role in this system.