Intra-seasonal variability of extreme boreal stratospheric polar vortex events and their precursors

  • Adelaida Díaz-Durán
  • Encarna Serrano
  • Blanca Ayarzagüena
  • Marta Abalos
  • Alvaro de la Cámara


The dynamical variability of the boreal stratospheric polar vortex has been usually analysed considering the extended winter as a whole or only focusing on December, January and February. Yet recent studies have found intra-seasonal differences in the boreal stratospheric dynamics. In this study, the intra-seasonal variability of anomalous wave activity preceding polar vortex extremes in the Northern Hemisphere is examined using ERA-Interim reanalysis data. Weak (WPV) and strong (SPV) polar vortex events are grouped into early, mid- or late winter sub-periods depending on the onset date. Overall, the strongest (weakest) wave-activity anomalies preceding polar vortex extremes are found in mid- (early) winter. Most of WPV (SPV) events in early winter occur under the influence of east (west) phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) and an enhancement (inhibition) of wavenumber-1 wave activity (WN1). Mid- and late winter WPV events are preceded by a strong vortex and an enhancement of WN1 and WN2, but the spatial structure of the anomalous wave activity and the phase of the QBO are different. Prior to mid-winter WPVs the enhancement of WN2 is related to the predominance of La Niña and linked to blockings over Siberia. Mid-winter SPV events show a negative phase of the Pacific-North America pattern that inhibits WN1 injected into the stratosphere. This study suggests that dynamical features preceding extreme polar vortex events in mid-winter should not be generalized to other winter sub-periods.


Intra-seasonal variability Wave activity Stratospheric polar vortex extremes Tropospheric precursors Tropospheric forcing Stratospheric dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Geofísica y Meteorología, Facultad de CC. Físicas, Universidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  3. 3.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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