The 11 year solar cycle UV irradiance effect and its dependency on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEnvironmental Research Letters. 2021, 16 (6), . 10.1088/1748-9326/abfe8b
The stratospheric, tropospheric and surface impacts from the 11 year ultraviolet solar spectral irradiance (SSI) variability have been extensively studied using climate models and observations. Here, we demonstrate using idealized model simulations that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which has been shown to impact the tropospheric and stratospheric circulation from sub-decadal to multi-decadal timescales, strongly modulates the solar-induced atmospheric response. To this end, we use a high-top version of the coupled ocean–atmosphere Norwegian Climate Prediction Model forced by the SSI dataset recommended for Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6. We perform a 24-member ensemble experiment over the solar cycle 23 in an idealized framework. To assess the PDO modulation of the solar signal, we divide the model data into the two PDO phases, PDO+ and PDO−, for each solar (maximum or minimum) phase. By compositing and combining the four categories, we hence determine the component of the solar signal that is independent of the PDO and the modulation of the solar signal by the PDO, along with the solar signal in each PDO phase. Reciprocally, we determine the PDO effect in each solar phase. Our results show that the intensification of the polar vortex under solar maximum is much stronger in the PDO− phase. This signal is transferred into the troposphere, where we find a correspondingly stronger polar jet and weaker Aleutian Low. We further show that the amplification of the solar signal by the PDO− phase is driven by anomalous meridional advection of solar-induced temperature anomalies over northern North America and the North Pacific, which contributes to a decreased meridional eddy heat flux and hence to a decreased vertical planetary wave flux into the stratosphere.