Understanding the variation of stratosphere–troposphere coupling during stratospheric northern annular mode events from a mass circulation perspective

  • Yueyue Yu
  • Rongcai RenEmail author
Original Article


We revisit the various stratosphere–troposphere coupling relation from the perspective of the meridional mass circulation. We constructed 10-hPa northern annular mode (NAM) phase composites to show the typical spatiotemporal evolution of circulation anomalies during the NAM’s life cycle. Our results indicate that there is large case-to-case difference in the temporal evolution and vertical profile of polar temperature anomalies during NAM events, which shows no strong dependence on the intensity and duration of NAM events, but agrees well with the variations of the three branches of mass circulation at 60°N: the stratospheric poleward warm air branch (ST), the poleward warm air branch in the upper troposphere (WB), and the equatorward cold air branch in the lower troposphere (CB). Such correspondence is due to the dynamic heating and cooling anomalies associated with the redistribution of air masses by the anomalous meridional mass circulation in different isentropic layers. The various relationship among the three mass circulation branches is attributed to anomalous wave activities. The amplitude and westward tilt of waves are always stronger (weaker) throughout the stratosphere before (after) the peak time of negative NAM events, leading to a stronger (weaker) ST before (after) the peak time. Variations in WB and CB are mostly dependent on wave variabilities in the mid- to lower troposphere, leading to variations in the timing of in- or out-of-phase coupling of the ST with the WB and CB, and thus various thermostructure during NAM events. At a later stage of the negative NAM events when the polar temperature becomes colder and the polar jet recovers, the weakened baroclinic instability in the lower stratosphere provides favorable conditions for the strengthening of the WB and CB if wave activities strengthen in the troposphere during that period.



This work was supported by Grants from the National Science Foundation of China (41705039, 41575041), the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA17010105), the Startup Foundation for Introducing Talent of NUIST (2017r068), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). The ERA-Interim datasets used in this work are available from the ECMWF (

Supplementary material

382_2019_4675_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1797 KB)


  1. Baldwin MP, Dunkerton TJ (1999) Downward propagation of the Arctic oscillation from the stratosphere to the troposphere. J Geophys Res 104:30937–30946Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin MP, Dunkerton TJ (2001) Stratospheric harbingers of anomalous weather regimes. Science 294:581–584Google Scholar
  3. Baldwin MP, Stephenson DB, Thompson DWJ, Dunkerton TJ, Charlton AJ, O’Neill A (2003) Stratospheric memory and skill of extended-range weather forecasts. Science 301:636–640. Google Scholar
  4. Cai M (2003) Potential vorticity intrusion index and climate variability of surface temperature. Geophys Res Lett 30:1119Google Scholar
  5. Cai M, Ren R-C (2006) 40–70 day meridional propagation of global circulation anomalies. Geophys Res Lett 33:L06818. Google Scholar
  6. Cai M, Ren R-C (2007) Meridional and downward propagation of atmospheric circulation anomalies. Part I: Northern Hemisphere cold season variability. J Atmos Sci 64:1880–1901Google Scholar
  7. Cai M, Shin C-S (2014) A total flow perspective of atmospheric mass and angular momentum circulations: Boreal winter mean state. J Atmos Sci 71:2244–2263Google Scholar
  8. Cai M, Barton C, Shin C-S, Chagnon JM (2014) The continuous mutual evolution of equatorial waves and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation of zonal flow in the equatorial stratosphere. J Atmos Sci 71:2878–2885Google Scholar
  9. Cai M, Yu Y-Y, Deng Y, van den Dool HM, Ren R-C, Saha S, Wu X-R, Huang J (2016) Feeling the pulse of the stratosphere: an emerging opportunity for predicting continental-scale cold air outbreaks one month in advance. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 97:1475–1489Google Scholar
  10. Charney JG (1947) The dynamics of long waves in a baroclinic westerly current. J Meteorol 4:135–163Google Scholar
  11. Charney JG, Drazin PG (1961) Propagation of planetary-scale disturbances from the lower into the upper atmosphere. J Geophys Res 66:83–109Google Scholar
  12. Cohen J, Saito K, Entekhabi D (2001) The role of the Siberian high in Northern Hemisphere climate variability. Geophys Res Lett 28:299–302Google Scholar
  13. Cohen J, Salstein D, Saito K (2002) A dynamical framework to understand and predict the major Northern Hemisphere mode. Geophys Res Lett 29:1412. Google Scholar
  14. Cohen J, Barlow M, Kushner P, Saito K (2007) Stratosphere–troposphere coupling and links with Eurasian land surface variability. J Clim 20:5335–5343Google Scholar
  15. Coughlin K, Tung KK (2005) Tropospheric wave response to decelerated stratosphere seen as downward propagation in northern annular mode. J Geophys Res 110:D01103. Google Scholar
  16. Dee DP et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137:553–597Google Scholar
  17. Domeisen DIV, Sun LT, Chen G (2013) The role of synoptic eddies in the tropospheric response to stratospheric variability. Geophys Res Lett 40:4933–4937Google Scholar
  18. Eady ET (1949) Long waves and cyclone waves. Tellus 1:33–52Google Scholar
  19. ECMWF (2012) ERA Interim, daily. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Subset used: 1 November 1979–28 February 2011. Accessed 1 July 2012
  20. Gallimore RG, Johnson DR (1981) The forcing of the meridional circulation of the isentropic zonally averaged circumpolar vortex. J Atmos Sci 38:583–599.,0583:TFOTMC.2.0.CO;2 Google Scholar
  21. Garfinkel CI, Hartmann DL, Sassi F (2010) Tropospheric precursors of anomalous Northern Hemisphere stratospheric polar vortices. J Clim 23:3282–3299Google Scholar
  22. Geller MA, Alpert JC (1980) Planetary wave coupling between the troposphere and the middle atmosphere as a possible sun-weather mechanism. J Atmos Sci 37:1197–1214Google Scholar
  23. Gerber EP, Orbe C, Polvani LM (2009) Stratospheric influence on the tropospheric circulation revealed by idealized ensemble forecasts. Geophys Res Lett 36:L24801. Google Scholar
  24. Hardiman SC et al (2011) Improved predictability of the troposphere using stratospheric final warmings. J Geophys Res 116:D18113. Google Scholar
  25. Hardiman SC, Butchart N, Hinton TJ, Osprey SM, Gray LJ (2012) The effect of a well-resolved stratosphere on surface climate: differences between CMIP5 simulations with high and low top versions of the Met office climate model. J Clim 25:7083–7099Google Scholar
  26. Harnik N, Lindzen RS (2001) The effect of reflecting surfaces on the vertical structure and variability of stratospheric planetary waves. J Atmos Sci 58:2872–2894Google Scholar
  27. Hines CO (1974) A possible mechanism for the production of Sun-weather correlations. J Amos Sci 31:589–591Google Scholar
  28. Hitchcock P, Simpson IR (2014) The downward influence of stratospheric sudden warmings. J Atmos Sci 71:3856–3876Google Scholar
  29. Hitchcock P, Shepherd TG, Manney GL (2013) Statistical characterization of arctic polar-night jet oscillation events. J Clim 26:2096–2116. Google Scholar
  30. Holton JR (2004) An introduction to dynamic meteorology, Intl Geophys Ser, 4th edn. Academic Press and Elsevier, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  31. Iwasaki T, Mochizuki Y (2012) Mass-weighted isentropic zonal mean equatorward flow in the Northern Hemispheric winter. SOLA 8:115–118. Google Scholar
  32. Iwasaki T, Shoji T, Kanno Y, Sawada M, Takaya K, Ujiie M (2014) Isentropic analysis of polar cold air mass streams in the Northern Hemispheric winter. J Atmos Sci 71:2230–2243. Google Scholar
  33. Johnson DR (1989) The forcing and maintenance of global monsoonal circulations: an isentropic analysis. Adv Geophys 31:43–316Google Scholar
  34. Kodera K, Kuroda Y (1990) Downward propagation of upper stratospheric mean zonal wind perturbation to the troposphere. Geophys Res Lett 17:1263–1266Google Scholar
  35. Kodera K, Kuroda Y (2000a) Stratospheric sudden warmings and slowly propagating zonal-mean zonal wind anomalies. J Geophys Res 105:12351–12359Google Scholar
  36. Kodera K, Kuroda Y (2000b) Tropospheric and stratospheric aspects of the Arctic Oscillation. Geophys Res Lett 27:3349–3352Google Scholar
  37. Kolstad EW, Charlton-Perez AJ (2011) Observed and simulated precursors of stratospheric polar vortex anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere. Clim Dyn 37:1443–1456Google Scholar
  38. Kuroda Y (2002) Relationship between the polar-night jet oscillation and the annular mode. Geophys Res Lett 29:1240. Google Scholar
  39. Kuroda Y, Kodera K (1999) Role of planetary waves in the stratosphere–troposphere coupled variability in the northern hemisphere winter. Geophys Res Lett 26:2375–2378Google Scholar
  40. Limpasuvan V, Thompson DWJ, Hartmann DL (2004) The life cycle of the Northern Hemisphere sudden stratospheric warmings. J Clim 17:2584–2596Google Scholar
  41. Limpasuvan V, Hartmann DL, Thompson DWJ, Jeev K, Yung YL (2005) Stratosphere–troposphere evolution during polar vortex intensification. J Geophys Res 110:D24101. Google Scholar
  42. Michel C, Rivière G (2011) The link between Rossby wave breakings and weather regime transitions. J Atmos Sci 68:1730–1748Google Scholar
  43. Nakagawa KI, Yamazaki K (2006) What kind of stratospheric sudden warming propagates to the troposphere? Geophys Res Lett 33:L04801. Google Scholar
  44. Pauluis O, Czaja A, Korty R (2008) The global atmospheric circulation on moist isentropes. Science 321:1075–1078Google Scholar
  45. Perlwitz J, Graf HF (2001) Troposphere–stratosphere dynamic coupling under strong and weak polar vortex conditions. Geophys Res Lett 28:271–274Google Scholar
  46. Perlwitz J, Harnik N (2004) Downward coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere: the relative roles of wave and zonal mean processes. J Climate 17:4902–4909Google Scholar
  47. Plumb RA, Semeniuk K (2002) Downward migration of extratropical zonal wind anomalies. J Geophys Res 108:D7. 4223Google Scholar
  48. Prezerakos NG (1985) Synoptic scale atmospheric wave break down at 500 hPa over Europe during cold seasons. Arch Meteorol Geophys Bioclimatol Ser A 34:145–158Google Scholar
  49. Ren RC, Cai M (2007) Meridional and vertical out-of-phase relationships of temperature omalies associated with the Northern Annular Mode variability. Geophys Res Lett 34:L07704Google Scholar
  50. Rind D, Perlwitz J, Lonergan P (2005) AO/NAO response to climate change: 1. Respective influences of stratospheric and tropospheric climate changes. J Geophys Res 110:D12107. Google Scholar
  51. Runde T, Dameris M, Garny H, Kinnison DE (2016) Classification of stratospheric extreme events according to their downward propagation to the troposphere. Geophys Res Lett 43:6665–6672Google Scholar
  52. Scaife AA, Knight JR, Vallis GK, Folland CK (2005) A stratospheric influence on the winter NAO and North Atlantic surface climate. Geophys Res Lett 32:L18715. Google Scholar
  53. Schmitz G, Grieger N (1980) Model calculations of the structure of planetary waves in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere as a function of the wind field in the upper stratosphere. Tellus 32:207–214Google Scholar
  54. Scinocca JF, Haynes PH (1998) Dynamical forcing of stratospheric waves by the tropospheric circulation. J Atmos Sci 55:2361–2392Google Scholar
  55. Shin CS (2012) A hybrid Lagrangian/Eulerian view of the global atmospheric mass circulation: seasonal cycle. Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University, p 144Google Scholar
  56. Shindell DT, Miller RL, Schmidt GA, Pandolfo L (1999) Simulation of recent northern winter climate trends by greenhouse gas forcing. Nature 399:452–455Google Scholar
  57. Shoji T, Kanno Y, Iwasaki T, Takaya K (2014) An isentropic analysis of the temporal evolution of East Asian cold air outbreaks. J Clim 27:9337–9348. Google Scholar
  58. Sigmond M, Scinocca JF, Kharin VV, Shepherd TG (2013) Enhanced seasonal forecast skill following stratospheric sudden warmings. Nat Geosci 6:98–102. Google Scholar
  59. Simmons A, Uppala S, Dee D, Kobayashi S (2006) ERA-Interim: new ECMWF reanalysis products from 1989 onwards. ECMWF Newsletter, No. 110, ECMWF, Reading, pp 26–35Google Scholar
  60. Song Y, Robinson WA (2006) Dynamical mechanisms for stratospheric influences on the troposphere. J Atmos Sci 61:1711–1725Google Scholar
  61. Thompson DW, Wallace JM (1998) The Arctic Oscillation signature in the wintertime geopotential height and temperature fields. Geophys Res Lett 25:1297–1300Google Scholar
  62. Thompson DWJ, Wallace JM (2001) Regional climate impacts of the Northern Hemisphere annular mode. Science 293:85–89. Google Scholar
  63. Thompson DWJ, Baldwin MP, Wallace JM (2002) Stratospheric connection to Northern Hemisphere wintertime weather: implications for prediction. J Clim 15:1421–1428Google Scholar
  64. Thompson DWJ, Baldwin MP, Solomon S (2005) Stratosphere–troposphere coupling in the Southern Hemisphere. J Atmos Sci 62:708–715. Google Scholar
  65. Ting MF, Held IM (1990) The stationary wave response to a tropical SST anomaly in an idealized GCM. J Atmos Sci 47:2546–2566Google Scholar
  66. Townsend RD, Johnson DR (1985) A diagnostic study of the isentropic zonally averaged mass circulation during the First GARP Global Experiment. J Atmos Sci 42:1565–1579,,1565:ADSOTI.2.0.CO;2 Google Scholar
  67. Wallace JM (2000) North Atlantic Oscillation/annular mode: two paradigms—one phenomenon. Q J R Meteorol Soc 126:791–805Google Scholar
  68. Wang B (1992) The vertical structure and development of the ENSO anomaly mode during 1979–1989. J Atmos Sci 49:698–712Google Scholar
  69. Wei K, Bao Q (2012) Projections of the East Asian winter monsoon under the IPCC AR5 scenarios using a coupled model: IAP_FGOALS. Adv Atmos Sci 29:1200–1214Google Scholar
  70. Wei K, Takahashi V, Chen W (2015) Long-term changes in the relationship between stratospheric circulation and East Asian winter monsoon. Atmos Sci Lett 16:359–365Google Scholar
  71. Yoden S, Yamaga T, Pawson S, Langematz U (1999) A composite analysis of the stratospheric sudden warmings simulated in a perpetual January integration of the Berlin TSM GCM. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 77:431–445Google Scholar
  72. Yu YY, Ren RC, Hu JG, Wu GX (2014) A mass budget analysis on the interannual variability of the polar surface pressure in the winter season. J Atmos Sci 71:3539–3553Google Scholar
  73. Yu YY, Cai M, Ren RC, Van den Dool HM (2015a) Relationship between warm air mass transport into upper polar atmosphere and cold air outbreaks in winter. J Atmos Sci 72:349–368Google Scholar
  74. Yu YY, Ren RC, Cai M (2015b) Dynamical linkage between cold air outbreaks and intensity variations of the meridional mass circulation. J Atmos Sci 72:3214–3232Google Scholar
  75. Yu YY, Ren RC, Cai M (2015c) Comparison of the mass circulation and AO indices as indicators of cold air outbreaks in northern winter. Geophys Res Lett 42:2442–2448Google Scholar
  76. Yu YY, Cai M, Ren RC (2018a) A stochastic model with a low-frequency amplification feedback for the stratospheric northern annular mode. Clim Dyn 50:3757–3773Google Scholar
  77. Yu YY, Cai M, Ren RC, Rao J (2018b) A closer look at the relationships between meridional mass circulation pulses in the stratosphere and cold air outbreak patterns in Northern Hemispheric winter. Clim Dyn., in pressGoogle Scholar
  78. Yu YY, Cai M, Shi CH, Ren RC (2018c) On the linkage among strong stratospheric mass circulation, stratospheric sudden warming, and cold weather events. Mon Weather Rev 146:2717–2739Google Scholar
  79. Zhang Q, Shin CS, Van den Dool H, Cai M (2013) CFSv2 prediction skill of stratospheric temperature anomalies. Clim Dyn 41:2231–2249. Google Scholar
  80. Zhou S, Miller AJ, Wang J, Angell JK (2002) Downward propagating temperature anomalies in the preconditioned polar stratosphere. J Clim 15:781–792Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, Ministry of Education (KLME), Joint International Research Laboratory of Climate and Environment Change (ILCEC), Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters (CIC-FEMD)Nanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG), Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations