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The anomalous change in the QBO in 2015-2016: The Anomalous Change in the 2015-2016 QBO

Newman, P. A.; Coy, L.; Pawson, S.; Lait, L. R.

The quasi‐biennial oscillation (QBO) is a tropical lower stratospheric, downward propagating zonal wind variation, with an average period of ~28 months. The QBO has been constantly documented since 1953. Here we describe the evolution of the QBO during the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2015–2016 using radiosonde observations and meteorological reanalyses. Normally, the QBO would show a steady downward propagation of the westerly phase. In 2015–2016, there was an anomalous upward displacement of this westerly phase from ~30 hPa to 15 hPa. These westerlies impinge on or "cutoff" the normal downward propagation of the easterly phase. In addition, easterly winds develop at 40 hPa. Comparisons to tropical wind statistics for the 1953 to present record demonstrate that this 2015–2016 QBO disruption is unprecedented.

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