How does the quasi-biennial oscillation affect the boreal winter tropospheric circulation in cmip5/6 models?

R. A.O. Jian*, Chaim I. Garfinkel, Ian P. White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Using 17 CMIP5 and CMIP6 models with a spontaneously generated quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)-like phenomenon, this study explores and evaluates three dynamical pathways for impacts of the QBO on the troposphere: 1) the Holtan-Tan (HT) effect on the stratospheric polar vortex and the northern annular mode (NAM), 2) the subtropical zonal wind downward arching over the Pacific, and 3) changes in local convection over the Maritime Continent and Indo-Pacific Ocean. More than half of the models can reproduce at least one of the three pathways, but few models can reproduce all of the three routes. First, seven models are able to simulate a weakened polar vortex during easterly QBO (EQBO) winters, in agreement with the HT effect in the reanalysis. However, the weakened polar vortex response during EQBO winters is underestimated or not present at all in other models, and hence the chain for QBO, vortex, and tropospheric NAM/AO is not simulated. For the second pathway associated with the downward arching of the QBO winds, 10 models simulate an inconsistent extratropical easterly anomaly center over 208-408N in the Pacific sector during EQBO, and hence the negative relative vorticity anomalies poleward of the easterly center is not present in those models, leading to no consensus on the height response over the North Pacific between those models and the reanalysis. However, the other seven models do capture this effect. The third pathway is only observed in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, where the strong climatological deep convection and the warm pool are situated. Seven models can simulate the convection anomalies associated with the QBO over the Maritime Continent, which is likely caused by the near-tropopause low buoyancy frequency anomalies. No robust relationship between the QBO and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can be established using the JRA55 reanalysis, and 10 models consistently confirm little modulation of the ocean basinwide Walker circulation and ENSO events by the QBO.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8975-8996
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2020

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  • Model evaluation/performance
  • Northern Hemisphere
  • Quasibiennial oscillation
  • Stratosphere-troposphere coupling


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