ABSTRACT: The sensitivity of stratospheric polar vortex variability to the basic-state stratospheric temperature profile is investigated by performing a parameter sweep experiment with a dry dynamical core general circulation model where the equilibrium temperature profiles in the polar lower and upper stratosphere are systematically varied. It is found that stratospheric variability is more sensitive to the temperature distribution in the lower stratosphere than in the upper stratosphere. In particular, a cold lower stratosphere favors a strong time-mean polar vortex with a large daily variability, promoting frequent sudden stratospheric warming events in the model runs forced with both wavenumber-1 and wavenumber-2 topographies. This sensitivity is explained by the control exerted by the lower-stratospheric basic state onto fluxes of planetary-scale wave activity from the troposphere to the stratosphere, confirming that the lower stratosphere can act like a valve for the upward propagation of wave activity. It is further shown that with optimal model parameters, stratospheric polar vortex climatology and variability mimicking Southern and Northern Hemisphere conditions are obtained with both wavenumber-1 and wavenumber-2 topographies.
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