Colors show mean annual cycles of polar vortex area in both hemispheres, and black contours are maximum zonal wind speeds in meters per second. These climatologies are based on thermal structure below the black dots, and gradients in carbon monoxide above. The winter season is in the center of each panel. Note the larger and stronger polar vortex in the Antarctic compared to the Arctic. Credit: Harvey et al., 2018, Figure 8
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Weather at the edge of space shares certain important similarities to weather lower down in the atmosphere, but due to less observational data has been harder to quantify. By combining two satellite-based data sets, Harvey et al. [2018] present a unified description of the polar vortex from the stratosphere to upper mesosphere. Diagnostics include mean structure and seasonal evolution, and characterizing mesospheric response to extreme stratospheric ‘sudden warming’ events. This work will serve as a definitive benchmark for the emerging generation of so-called “high-top” climate models.

Citation: Harvey, V. L., Randall, C. E., Goncharenko, L., Becker, E., & France, J. [2018]. On the upward extension of the polar vortices into the mesosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 123.

William J. Randel, Editor, JGR: Atmospheres

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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