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Volume 18, issue 15
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 11277-11287, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Special issue: Chemistry–Climate Modelling Initiative (CCMI) (ACP/AMT/ESSD/GMD...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 11277-11287, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Aug 2018

Research article | 13 Aug 2018

No robust evidence of future changes in major stratospheric sudden warmings: a multi-model assessment from CCMI

Blanca Ayarzagüena1,2,a, Lorenzo M. Polvani3, Ulrike Langematz4, Hideharu Akiyoshi5, Slimane Bekki6, Neal Butchart7, Martin Dameris8, Makoto Deushi9, Steven C. Hardiman7, Patrick Jöckel8, Andrew Klekociuk10,11, Marion Marchand6, Martine Michou12, Olaf Morgenstern13, Fiona M. O'Connor7, Luke D. Oman14, David A. Plummer15, Laura Revell16,17, Eugene Rozanov18,16, David Saint-Martin12, John Scinocca15, Andrea Stenke16, Kane Stone19,20,b, Yousuke Yamashita5,c, Kohei Yoshida9, and Guang Zeng13 Blanca Ayarzagüena et al.
  • 1Dpto. Física de la Tierra y Astrofísica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO), CSIC-UCM, Madrid, Spain
  • 3Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 4Institut für Meteorologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 5National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Tsukuba, Japan
  • 6LATMOS, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL), Paris, France
  • 7Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC), Exeter, UK
  • 8Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 9Meteorological Research Institute (MRI), Tsukuba, Japan
  • 10Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia
  • 11Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 12CNRM UMR 3589, Météo-France/CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 13National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand
  • 14National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA GSFC), Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
  • 15Environment and Climate Change Canada, Montréal, Canada
  • 16Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich (ETHZ), Zürich, Switzerland
  • 17Bodeker Scientific, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 18Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos/World Radiation Centre, Davos, Switzerland
  • 19School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 20ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Sydney, Australia
  • apreviously at: College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • bnow at: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • cnow at: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokohama, Japan

Abstract. Major mid-winter stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs) are the largest instance of wintertime variability in the Arctic stratosphere. Because SSWs are able to cause significant surface weather anomalies on intra-seasonal timescales, several previous studies have focused on their potential future change, as might be induced by anthropogenic forcings. However, a wide range of results have been reported, from a future increase in the frequency of SSWs to an actual decrease. Several factors might explain these contradictory results, notably the use of different metrics for the identification of SSWs and the impact of large climatological biases in single-model studies. To bring some clarity, we here revisit the question of future SSW changes, using an identical set of metrics applied consistently across 12 different models participating in the Chemistry–Climate Model Initiative. Our analysis reveals that no statistically significant change in the frequency of SSWs will occur over the 21st century, irrespective of the metric used for the identification of the event. Changes in other SSW characteristics – such as their duration, deceleration of the polar night jet, and the tropospheric forcing – are also assessed: again, we find no evidence of future changes over the 21st century.

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Short summary
Stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs) are natural major disruptions of the polar stratospheric circulation that also affect surface weather. In the literature there are conflicting claims as to whether SSWs will change in the future. The confusion comes from studies using different models and methods. Here we settle the question by analysing 12 models with a consistent methodology, to show that no robust changes in frequency and other features are expected over the 21st century.
Stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs) are natural major disruptions of the polar stratospheric...