Wave reflectiom and focusing prior to the major stratospheric warming of September 2002

Nili Harnik*, Richard K. Scott, Judith Perlwitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Observations of the Southern Hemispheric winter conditions indicate that the major warming of September 2002 resulted from a combination of stationary wave-1 and traveling wave-2 forcing events and suggest that wave and mean-flow anomalies present earlier that winter may have also played a role. Quantities such as the location of the zero wind line, the strength and wave geometry of the vortex, and the horizontal and vertical wave fluxes all differed significantly from climatological values throughout much of the 2002 winter. An analysis of the anomalous features suggests the hypothesis that the persistence of a traveling wave 2 may have increased the likelihood of the combination with stationary wave 1, leading to the observed unprecedented increase in upward Eliassen-Palm flux preceding the warming. The anomalous conditio ns of the 2002 winter began as early as mid-May of that year and consisted of a large burst of wave flux into the stratosphere and a strong deceleration of the vortex during its early stage of development. The low-latitude easterly anomaly that resulted from this (unprecedented) event appears to have enhanced the poleward focusing of wave activity in the mid- and upper stratosphere during the rest of the winter. The altered wave geometry of the 2002 vortex allowed internal reflection of traveling wave 2, which helps to explain its unusual persistence during the rest of the winter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-650
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005


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