Prospect of Increased Disruption to the QBO in a Changing Climate

James A. Anstey, Timothy P. Banyard, Neal Butchart, Lawrence Coy, Paul A. Newman, Scott Osprey, Corwin J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) of tropical stratospheric winds was disrupted during the 2019/20 Northern Hemisphere winter. We show that this latest disruption to the regular QBO cycling was similar in many respects to that seen in 2016, but initiated by horizontal momentum transport from the Southern Hemisphere. The predictable signal associated with the QBO's quasi-regular phase progression is lost during disruptions and the oscillation reemerges after a few months significantly shifted in phase from what would be expected if it had progressed uninterrupted. We infer from an increased wave-momentum flux into equatorial latitudes seen in climate model projections that disruptions to the QBO are likely to become more common in future. Consequently, it is possible that in the future, the QBO could be a less reliable source of predictability on lead times extending out to several years than it currently is.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL093058
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
Early online date26 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021


  • climate change
  • predictability
  • quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)
  • stratosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Prospect of Increased Disruption to the QBO in a Changing Climate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this