Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: The Impact of the Stratosphere on Arctic Climate (Award# 1603350)

PI: Smith, Karen L (
Phone: (845) 365.8321 
Institute/Department: Columbia University, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. William Wiseman (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere | Meteorology and Climate |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Arctic surface climate has warmed dramatically over the past several decades. This warming, known as Arctic amplification, is associated, most notably, with extensive loss of sea ice. The Arctic stratosphere has also been experiencing change, including significant stratospheric ozone depletion. There is increasing evidence that polar stratospheric variability and change can have a significant downward impact on the surface climate. This research will examine the connection between stratospheric circulation and chemistry and past and future changes in the surface climate of the Arctic region. Understanding the coupling between the stratosphere and the surface in the Arctic region has potentially important implications for sea ice and weather forecasting. In addition, this research will lead to an improved understanding of the local and remote processes that will determine Arctic stratospheric and tropospheric ozone concentrations in the future. This is important because (a) stratospheric ozone protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation and (b) tropospheric ozone is a toxic pollutant, which may have potential negative impacts on air quality and vegetation in the region. This project will contribute to STEM workforce development in two ways. The principal investigator is a beginning investigator and this project will provide her support during the formative years of her career. The project will also provide support for the training of a graduate student. The anticipated science results have the potential to contribute to improve short-range forecast of sea ice and weather. The project will enhance collaboration between NCAR and Columbia University. Outreach to high school students will be enabled through leveraging of programs at the American Museum of Natural History and in the Inuit village of Arviat. Finally, research results will be shared with local K-12 teachers through an ongoing program sponsored by the principal investigator’s home institution. This research will be carried out by employing both observationally-based data products and global climate model integrations to address the question of whether stratospheric circulation and chemistry has a downward influence of the Arctic surface climate, particularly sea ice, on seasonal, interannual and multi-decadal time scales. From a modeling perspective, the approach outlined in the grant will be to employ the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM), with three different configurations that will allow examination of the interplay between dynamics and chemistry: (i) the standard WACCM with interactive stratospheric chemistry, (ii) the specified-chemistry version of WACCM (SC-WACCM) and (iii) the new fully coupled WACCM-TSMLT with tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry.

Logistics Summary:
Beginning in 2016, this three-year project aims to better understand the downward influence of stratospheric dynamics and chemistry on the Arctic surface climate, particularly for sea ice. One graduate student and four researchers (including one external collaborator) will use both observational data and model output to examine how changes in the stratosphere impact stratospheric and tropospheric ozone levels and sea ice over seasonal, interannual and multi-decadal time scales. There is no fieldwork associated with this project.

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