The Southern Hemisphere Minor Sudden Stratospheric Warming in September 2019 and its Predictions in S2S Models

Jian Rao, Chaim I. Garfinkel, Ian P. White, Chen Schwartz

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A minor sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) happened in September 2019 in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) with winds at 10 hPa, 60°S reaching their minimum value on 18 September. Using multiple data sets and real-time predictions from 11 subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) models, the evolution, favorable conditions, and predictability for this SSW event are explored. The September 2019 SSW happened during several favorable conditions, including easterly equatorial quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) winds at 10 hPa, solar minimum, positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) sea surface temperatures (SST), warm SST anomalies in the central Pacific, and a blocking high near the Antarctic Peninsula. With these favorable initial and boundary conditions, the predictive limit to this SSW is around 18 days in some S2S models, and more than 50% of the ensemble members forecast the zonal wind deceleration in reforecasts initialized around 29 August. A vortex slowdown is evident in some initializations from around 22 August, but with a forecast-reanalysis pattern correlation %3C0.5, while initializations later than 29 August capture the wavelike pattern in the troposphere and the subsequent stratospheric evolution. The ensemble spread in the magnitude of the vortex deceleration during the SSW is mainly explained by the ensemble spread in the magnitude of upward propagation of waves in the troposphere and in the stratosphere, with an underestimated tropospheric wave amplitude leading to a too-small deceleration of the vortex. The September 2019 SH SSW did not show a near-instantaneous downward impact on the tropospheric southern annular mode (SAM) in late September and early October 2019. The Australian drought and hot weather in September possibly associated with the positive IOD might have been exacerbated by the negative SAM in October and later months due to the weak stratospheric polar vortex. However, models tend to forecast a near-instantaneous tropospheric response to the SSW.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2020JD032723
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number14
StatePublished - 27 Jul 2020


  • September 2019
  • Southern Hemisphere (SH)
  • predictability
  • subseasonal to seasonal (S2S)
  • sudden stratospheric warming (SSW)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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