The Equatorial Annual Oscillation (EAO) as Upper Atmosphere Pacemaker for Generating the Large Solar Cycle Modulation of the QBO in the Stratosphere: Model Simulations and Observations

Friday, 19 December 2014
Hans G Mayr, Applied Physics Laboratory Johns Hopkins, Laurel, MD, United States; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States and Jae N Lee, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, United States
Very large solar cycle (SC) variations are observed in the zonal winds and temperatures of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). The effect is too large to be produced by the small SC variations of the solar flux in the lower stratosphere. Dynamical downward coupling must be involved, and we present a review of the mechanism that emerged from studies with the Numerical Spectral Model (NSM). In the NSM, the QBO is generated with parameterized gravity waves and planetary waves. For a SC period of 10 years, the applied heat source varies exponentially with altitude: 0.2% (surface), 2% (50 km), 20% (100 km and above). With that solar forcing, the model reproduces qualitatively the SC modulations of the QBO zonal winds around the equator and temperature variations extending to high latitudes. The QBO is spawned in the lower mesosphere by a hemispherically symmetric equatorial annual oscillation (EAO) of the zonal wind velocities. Though small in magnitude, the SC modulation of the EAO is large. Like the symmetric QBO, the EAO extends into the lower atmosphere under the influence of, and amplified by, wave mean flow interactions. The amplitude modulations of the QBO and EAO are in phase with the imposed SC heat source. Essentially, the EAO provides the pathway and pacemaker for the SC modulation of the QBO – and wave interactions amplify the oscillations as they propagate down into the lower atmosphere. Analysis of NCEP temperature and zonal wind data (1958 to 2006) produces the hemispherically symmetric equatorial annual oscillation (EAO), and it contains spectral signatures with periods around 11 years. Moving windows of 44 years show that below 20 km the 11-year modulation of the EAO is phase locked to the SC. The spectral features from the 48-year data record reveal modulation signatures of 9.6 and 12 years, which produce EAO variations that mimic in limited altitude regimes the varying maxima and minima of the 10.7 cm solar index. In the lower stratosphere, the 40-year record of NCEP data also shows that the zonal winds reveal a pronounced 5-year modulation of the symmetric EAO confined to equatorial latitudes. And this modulation is observed in temperature variations that extend to high latitudes. The NSM produces a 5-year oscillation through nonlinear interaction between the 30-month QBO and annual oscillation.