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Sudden Stratospheric Warmings
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  • Mark P Baldwin,
  • Blanca Ayarzagüena,
  • Thomas Birner,
  • Neal Butchart,
  • Andrew James Charlton-Perez,
  • Amy Hawes Butler,
  • Daniela I.V. Domeisen,
  • Chaim I Garfinkel,
  • Hella Garny,
  • Edwin Paul Gerber,
  • Michaela Imelda Hegglin,
  • Ulrike Langematz,
  • Nicholas Michael Pedatella
Mark P Baldwin
University of Exeter

Corresponding Author:m.baldwin@exeter.ac.uk

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Blanca Ayarzagüena
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
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Thomas Birner
Ludwig-Maximilians University
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Neal Butchart
Met Office Hadley Centre
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Andrew James Charlton-Perez
University of Reading
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Amy Hawes Butler
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Daniela I.V. Domeisen
ETH Zurich
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Chaim I Garfinkel
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Hella Garny
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt
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Edwin Paul Gerber
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
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Michaela Imelda Hegglin
University of Reading
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Ulrike Langematz
Freie Universitaet Berlin
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Nicholas Michael Pedatella
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) are impressive fluid dynamical events in which large and rapid temperature increases in the winter polar stratosphere (~0–50km) are associated with a complete reversal of the climatological wintertime westerly winds. SSWs are fundamentally caused by the breaking of planetary-scale waves that propagate upwards from the troposphere. During an SSW, the polar vortex breaks down, accompanied by rapid warming of the polar air column. This rapid warming and descent of the polar air column affects tropospheric weather, shifting jet streams, storm tracks, and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM), including increased frequency of cold air outbreaks over North America and Eurasia. SSWs affect the whole atmosphere above the stratosphere producing widespread effects on atmospheric chemistry, temperatures, winds, neutral (non-ionized) particle and electron densities, and electric fields. These effects span the surface to the thermosphere and across both hemispheres. Given their crucial role in the whole atmosphere, SSWs are also seen as a key process to analyze in climate change studies and subseasonal to seasonal predictions. This work reviews the current knowledge on the most important aspects related to SSWs from the historical background to involved dynamical processes, modelling, chemistry and impact on other atmospheric layers.
Mar 2021Published in Reviews of Geophysics volume 59 issue 1. 10.1029/2020RG000708