A consistent definition of the Arctic polar vortex breakup in both the lower and upper stratosphere

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Wookap Choi and Jihoon Seo, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Breakup of the polar vortex is a dominant feature of the seasonal transition from winter to summer in the stratosphere, which significantly affects stratospheric O3 concentration and tropospheric weather. Previously several criteria for the vortex breakup have been suggested based on the potential vorticity (PV) and wind speed, however, those mainly have focused on the lower stratospheric vortex of which spatiotemporal evolution and decay are more continuous than those of the upper stratospheric vortex. To find a consistent criterion for the vortex breakup in both the lower and upper stratosphere, the present study defined a polar vortex breakup day as when PV gradient at the polar vortex edge becomes lower than that at the subtropical edge on the area equivalent latitude based on PV. With applying the new definition to the UK Met Office reanalysis data, the breakup days of the Arctic polar vortices on 18 isentropic levels from 450 K to 1300 K were calculated for the period of 1993-2005. In comparison with CH4, N2O and O3 measured by the ILAS and POAM II/III satellite instruments, the breakup days are well consistent with changes in the distribution of such tracers as well as their zonal standard deviations associated with the vortex structure breaking and irreversible mixing. The vortex breakup in the upper stratosphere occurs more or less a month prior to that in the middle and lower stratosphere while the stratospheric final warming events occurs simultaneously in the upper and lower stratosphere.