Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 3767–3782

Towards a physical understanding of stratospheric cooling under global warming through a process-based decomposition method


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-016-3040-8

Cite this article as:
Yang, Y., Ren, RC. & Cai, M. Clim Dyn (2016) 47: 3767. doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3040-8


The stratosphere has been cooling under global warming, the causes of which are not yet well understood. This study applied a process-based decomposition method (CFRAM; Coupled Surface–Atmosphere Climate Feedback Response Analysis Method) to the simulation results of a Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 (CMIP5) model (CCSM4; Community Climate System Model, version 4), to demonstrate the responsible radiative and non-radiative processes involved in the stratospheric cooling. By focusing on the long-term stratospheric temperature changes between the “historical run” and the 8.5 W m−2 Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP8.5) scenario, this study demonstrates that the changes of radiative radiation due to CO2, ozone and water vapor are the main divers of stratospheric cooling in both winter and summer. They contribute to the cooling changes by reducing the net radiative energy (mainly downward radiation) received by the stratospheric layer. In terms of the global average, their contributions are around −5, −1.5, and −1 K, respectively. However, the observed stratospheric cooling is much weaker than the cooling by radiative processes. It is because changes in atmospheric dynamic processes act to strongly mitigate the radiative cooling by yielding a roughly 4 K warming on the global average base. In particular, the much stronger/weaker dynamic warming in the northern/southern winter extratropics is associated with an increase of the planetary-wave activity in the northern winter, but a slight decrease in the southern winter hemisphere, under global warming. More importantly, although radiative processes dominate the stratospheric cooling, the spatial patterns are largely determined by the non-radiative effects of dynamic processes.


Stratospheric cooling Global warming Processes-based decomposition CFRAM 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG), Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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