Role of tropical lower stratosphere winds in quasi-biennial oscillation disruptions

Min Jee Kang, Hye Yeong Chun, Seok Woo Son, Rolando R. Garcia, Soon Il An, Sang Hun Park

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In 2016, the westerly quasi-biennial oscillation (WQBO) in the equatorial stratosphere was unprecedentedly disrupted by westward forcing near 40 hPa; this was followed by another disruption in 2020. Strong extratropical Rossby waves propagating toward the tropics were considered the main cause of the disruptions, but why the zonal wind is reversed only in the middle of the WQBO remains unclear. Here, we show that strong westerly winds in the equatorial lower stratosphere (70 to 100 hPa) help to disrupt the WQBO by hindering the wind reversal at its base. They also help equatorial westward waves propagate further upward, increasing the negative forcing at around 40 hPa that drives the QBO disruptions. Tropical westerly winds have been increasing in the past and are projected to increase in a warmer climate. These background wind changes may allow more frequent QBO disruptions in the future, leading to less predictability in atmospheric weather and climate systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberabm7229
JournalScience Advances
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul

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