1Norsk Institutt for Luftforskning, NILU, Norway
2CNRM-GAME, URA1357, Météo-France and CNRS, Toulouse, France
3Institut d'Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique, BIRA-IASB, Belgium
4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
5New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, NM, USA
Abstract. The record-breaking major stratospheric warming of northern winter 2009 (January–February) is studied using BASCOE (Belgian Assimilation System for Chemical ObsErvation) stratospheric water vapour analyses and MLS (Microwave Limb Sounder) water vapour observations, together with meteorological data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and potential vorticity (PV) derived from ECMWF meteorological data. We focus on the interaction between the cyclonic wintertime stratospheric polar vortex and subsidiary anticyclonic stratospheric circulations during the build-up, peak and aftermath of the major warming. We show dynamical consistency between the water vapour analysed fields and the meteorological and PV fields. Using various approaches, we use the analysed water vapour fields to estimate descent in the polar vortex during this period of between ~0.5 km day−1 and ~0.7 km day−1. New results include the analysis of water vapour during the major warming and demonstration of the benefit of assimilating MLS satellite data into the BASCOE model.