Towards seasonal prediction: stratosphere-troposphere coupling in the atmospheric model ICON-NWP

raphael.koehler [ at ]


Stratospheric variability is one of the main potential sources for sub-seasonal to seasonal predictability in mid-latitudes in winter. Stratospheric pathways play an important role for long-range teleconnections between tropical phenomena, such as the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the mid-latitudes on the one hand, and linkages between Arctic climate change and the mid-latitudes on the other hand. In order to move forward in the field of extratropical seasonal predictions, it is essential that an atmospheric model is able to realistically simulate the stratospheric circulation and variability. The numerical weather prediction (NWP) configuration of the ICOsahedral Non-hydrostatic atmosphere model ICON is currently being used by the German Meteorological Service for the regular weather forecast, and is intended to produce seasonal predictions in future. This thesis represents the first extensive evaluation of Northern Hemisphere stratospheric winter circulation in ICON-NWP by analysing a large set of seasonal ensemble experiments. An ICON control climatology simulated with a default setup is able to reproduce the basic behaviour of the stratospheric polar vortex. However, stratospheric westerlies are significantly too weak and major stratospheric warmings too frequent, especially in January. The weak stratospheric polar vortex in ICON is furthermore connected to a mean sea level pressure (MSLP) bias pattern resembling the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Since a good representation of the drag exerted by gravity waves is crucial for a realistic simulation of the stratosphere, three sensitivity experiments with reduced gravity wave drag are performed. Both a reduction of the non-orographic and orographic gravity wave drag respectively, lead to a strengthening of the stratospheric vortex and thus a bias reduction in winter, in particular in January. However, the effect of the non-orographic gravity wave drag on the stratosphere is stronger. A third experiment, combining a reduced orographic and non-orographic drag, exhibits the largest stratospheric bias reductions. The analysis of stratosphere-troposphere coupling based on an index of the Northern Annular Mode demonstrates that ICON realistically represents downward coupling. This coupling is intensified and more realistic in experiments with a reduced gravity wave drag, in particular with reduced non-orographic drag. Tropospheric circulation is also affected by the reduced gravity wave drag, especially in January, when the strongly improved stratospheric circulation reduces biases in the MSLP patterns. Moreover, a retuning of the subgrid-scale orography parameterisations leads to a significant error reduction in the MSLP in all months. In conclusion, the combination of these adjusted parameterisations is recommended as a current optimal setup for seasonal simulations with ICON. Additionally, this thesis discusses further possible influences on the stratospheric polar vortex, including the influence of tropical phenomena, such as QBO and ENSO, as well as the influence of a rapidly warming Arctic. ICON does not simulate the quasi-oscillatory behaviour of the QBO and favours weak easterlies in the tropical stratosphere. A comparison with a reanalysis composite of the easterly QBO phase reveals, that the shift towards the easterly QBO in ICON further weakens the stratospheric polar vortex. On the other hand, the stratospheric reaction to ENSO events in ICON is realistic. ICON and the reanalysis exhibit a weakened stratospheric vortex in warm ENSO years. Furthermore, in particular in winter, warm ENSO events favour the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, whereas cold events favour the positive phase. The ICON simulations also suggest a significant effect of ENSO on the Atlantic-European sector in late winter. To investigate the influence of Arctic climate change on mid-latitude circulation changes, two differing approaches with transient and fixed sea ice conditions are chosen. Neither ICON approach exhibits the mid-latitude tropospheric negative Arctic Oscillation circulation response to amplified Arctic warming, as it is discussed on the basis of observational evidence. Nevertheless, adding a new model to the current and active discussion on Arctic-midlatitude linkages, further contributes to the understanding of divergent conclusions between model and observational studies.

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Thesis (PhD)
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DOI 10.25932/publishup-48723

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Köhler, R. (2020): Towards seasonal prediction: stratosphere-troposphere coupling in the atmospheric model ICON-NWP , PhD thesis, Universität Potsdam. doi: 10.25932/publishup-48723

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