A Quasi-Biennial Oscillation Signal in General Circulation Model Simulations

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Science  03 Sep 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5126, pp. 1313-1316
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5126.1313


The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is a free atmospheric mode that affects the equatorial lower stratosphere. With a quasi-regular frequency, the mean equatorial zonal wind alternates from easterly to westerly regimes. This oscillation is zonally symmetric about the equator, has its largest amplitude in the latitudinal band from 20°S to 20°N, and has a mean period of about 27 months. The QBO appears to originate in the momentum deposition produced by the damping in the stratosphere of equatorial waves excited by diabatic thermal processes in the troposphere. The results of three 10-year simulations obtained with three general circulation models are reported, all of which show the development in the stratosphere of a QBO signal with a period and a spatial propagating structure that are in good agreement with observations without any ad hoc parameterization of equatorial wave forcing. Although the amplitude of the oscillation in the simulations is still less than the observed value, the result is promising for the development of global climate models.