The Study of Sudden Stratospheric Warmings Using Infrasound

  • Pieter SmetsEmail author
  • Jelle Assink
  • Läslo Evers


Infrasound has a long history of monitoring sudden stratospheric warmings. Several pioneering studies have focused on the various effects of a major warming on the propagation of infrasound. A clear transition has been made from observing anomalous signatures towards the use of these signals to study anomalies in upper atmospheric conditions. Typically, the infrasonic signature of a major warming corresponds to summer-like infrasound characteristics observed in midwinter. More subtile changes occur during a minor warming, recognisable by the presence of a bidirectional stratospheric duct or propagation through a warm stratosphere leading to small shadow zones. A combined analysis of all signal characteristics unravels the general stratospheric structure throughout the life cycle of the warming. A new methodology to evaluate the state of the atmosphere as represented by various weather and climate models is demonstrated. A case study comparing regional volcano infrasound with simulations using various forecast steps indicates significant differences in stratospheric forecast skill, associated with a data assimilation issue during the warming.



This work was performed during the course of the ARISE design studio project: part one (2012–2014) funded by European Union FP7 program (grant number 284387) and part two (2015–2017) funded by the European Commission H2020 program (grant number 653980). Läslo Evers’ contribution is partly funded through a VIDI project from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), project number 864.14.005. CTBTO and station operators are thanked for guaranteeing the high quality of the IMS data and products. Figures in this chapter were made with the generic mapping tools (Wessel and Smith 1991).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.R&D Department of Seismology and AcousticsRoyal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)De BiltThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Department of Geoscience and EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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