Response of the Antarctic stratosphere to warm pool El Niño Events in the GEOS CCM

M. M. Hurwitz, I. S. Song, L. D. Oman, P. A. Newman, A. M. Molod, S. M. Frith, J. E. Nielsen

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry-Climate Model, Version 2 (GEOS V2 CCM) is used to investigate the response of the Antarctic stratosphere to (1) warm pool El Niño (WPEN) events and (2) the sensitivity of this response to the phase of the QBO. A new formulation of the GEOS V2 CCM includes an improved general circulation model and an internally generated quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). Two 50-yr time-slice simulations are forced by repeating annual cycles of sea surface temperatures and sea ice concentrations composited from observed WPEN and neutral ENSO (ENSON) events. In these simulations, greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance concentrations represent the present-day climate. The modelled responses to WPEN, and to the phase of the QBO during WPEN, are compared with NASA's Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) reanalysis.

WPEN events enhance poleward tropospheric planetary wave activity in the central South Pacific region during austral spring, leading to relative warming of the Antarctic lower stratosphere in November/December. During the easterly phase of the QBO (QBO-E), the GEOS V2 CCM reproduces the observed 4-5 K warming of the polar region at 50 hPa, in the WPEN simulation relative to ENSON.

In the recent past, the response to WPEN events was sensitive to the phase of the QBO: the enhancement in planetary wave driving and the lower stratospheric warming signal were mainly associated with WPEN events coincident with QBO-E. In the GEOS V2 CCM, however, the Antarctic response to WPEN events is insensitive to the phase of the QBO: the modelled response is always easterly QBO-like. The QBO signal does not extend far enough into the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere to modulate convection and thus planetary wave activity in the south central Pacific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9659-9669
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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