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.
- climate change
- quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)