Final warming of the Southern Hemisphere polar vortex in high- and low-top CMIP5 models

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Wilcox, Laura ; Charlton-Perez, Andrew J (2013)

The final warming date of the polar vortex is a key component of Southern Hemisphere stratospheric and tropospheric variability in spring and summer. We examine the effect of external forcings on Southern Hemisphere final warming date, and the sensitivity of any projected changes to model representation of the stratosphere. Final warming date is calculated using a temperature-based diagnostic for ensembles of high- and low-top CMIP5 models, under the CMIP5 historical, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 forcing scenarios. The final warming date in the models is generally too late in comparison with those from reanalyses: around two weeks too late in the low-top ensemble, and around one week too late in the high-top ensemble.\ud \ud Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition (EEMD) is used to analyse past and future change in final warming date. Both the low- and high-top ensemble show characteristic behaviour expected in response to changes in greenhouse gas and stratospheric ozone concentrations. In both ensembles, under both scenarios, an increase in final warming date is seen between 1850 and 2100, with the latest dates occurring in the early twenty-first century, associated with the minimum in stratospheric ozone concentrations in this period. However, this response is more pronounced in the high-top ensemble. The high-top models show a delay in final warming date in RCP8.5 that is not produced by the low-top models, which are shown to be less responsive to greenhouse gas forcing. This suggests that it may be necessary to use stratosphere resolving models to accurately predict Southern Hemisphere surface climate change.
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