Sudden stratospheric warmings and tropospheric blockings in a multi-century simulation of the IPSL-CM5A coupled climate model

Jessica Vial, Tim J. Osborn, François Lott

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The relation between sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) and blocking events is analyzed in a multi-centennial pre-industrial simulation of the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace coupled model (IPSL-CM5A), prepared for the fifth phase of the coupled model intercomparison project. The IPSL model captures a fairly realistic distribution of both SSWs and tropospheric blocking events, albeit with a tendency to overestimate the frequency of blocking in the western Pacific and underestimate it in the Euro-Atlantic sector. The 1000-year long simulation reveals statistically significant differences in blocking frequency and duration over the 40-day periods preceding and following the onset of SSWs. More specifically, there is an enhanced blocking frequency over Eurasia before SSWs, followed by an westward displacement of blocking anomalies over the Atlantic region as SSWs evolve and then decline. The frequency of blocking is reduced over the western Pacific sector during the life-cycle of SSWs, while the model simulates no significant relationship with eastern Pacific blocks. Finally, these changes in blocking frequency tend to be associated with a shift in the distribution of blocking lifetime toward longer-lasting blocking events before the onset of SSWs and shorter-lived blocks after the warmings. This study systematically verifies that the results are consistent with the two pictures that (1) blockings produce planetary scale anomalies that can force vertically propagating Rossby waves and then SSWs when the waves break and (2) SSWs affect blockings in return, for instance via the effect they have on the North Atlantic Oscillation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2401-2414
Number of pages14
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

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