Comparing the effects of solar-related and terrestrial drivers on the northern polar vortex
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Space Weather and Space Climate. 2020, 10, 56. 10.1051/swsc/2020058
Northern polar vortex experiences significant variability during Arctic winter. Solar activity contributes to this variability via solar irradiance and energetic particle precipitation. Recent studies have found that energetic electron precipitation (EEP) affects the polar vortex by forming ozone depleting NOx compounds. However, it is still unknown how the EEP effect compares to variabilities caused by, e.g., solar irradiance or terrestrial drivers. In this study we examine the effects of EEP, solar irradiance, El-Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), volcanic aerosols and quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) on the northern wintertime atmosphere. We use geomagnetic Ap-index to quantify EEP activity, sunspot numbers to quantify solar irradiance, Niño 3.4 index for ENSO and aerosol optical depth for the amount of volcanic aerosols. We use a new composite dataset including ERA-40 and ERA-Interim reanalysis of zonal wind and temperature and multilinear regression analysis to estimate atmospheric responses to the above mentioned explaining variables in winter months of 1957–2017. We confirm the earlier results showing that EEP and QBO strengthen the polar vortex. We find here that the EEP effect on polar vortex is stronger and more significant than the effects of the other drivers in almost all winter months in most conditions. During 1957–2017 the considered drivers together explain about 25–35% of polar vortex variability while the EEP effect alone explains about 10–20% of it. Thus, a major part of variability is not due to the linear effect by the studied explaining variables. The positive EEP effect is particularly strong if QBO-wind at 30 hPa has been easterly during the preceding summer, while for a westerly QBO the EEP effect is weaker and less significant.