[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Community Earth System Model, CESM1 CAM4-chem has been used to perform the Chemistry Climate Model Initiative (CCMI) reference and sensitivity simulations. In this model, the Community Atmospheric Model Version 4 (CAM4) is fully coupled to tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry. Details and specifics of each configuration, including new developments and improvements are described. CESM1 CAM4-chem is a low top model that reaches up to approximately 40 km and uses a horizontal resolution of 1.9° latitude and 2.5° longitude. For the specified dynamics experiments, the model is nudged to Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis For Research And Applications (MERRA) reanalysis. We summarize the performance of the three reference simulations suggested by CCMI, with a focus on the observed period. Comparisons with elected datasets are employed to demonstrate the general performance of the model. We highlight new datasets that are suited for multi-model evaluation studies. Most important improvements of the model are the treatment of stratospheric aerosols and the corresponding adjustments for radiation and optics, the updated chemistry scheme including improved polar chemistry and stratospheric dynamics, and improved dry deposition rates. These updates lead to a very good representation of tropospheric ozone within 20 % of values from available observations for most regions. In particular, the trend and magnitude of surface ozone has been much improved compared to earlier versions of the model. Furthermore, stratospheric column ozone of the Southern Hemisphere in winter and spring is reasonably well represented. All experiments still underestimate CO most significantly in Northern Hemisphere spring and show a significant underestimation of hydrocarbons based on surface observations.
Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Geoscientific Model Development Discussions
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Specified Dynamics version of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (SD-WACCM) and the Goddard Space Flight Center two-dimensional (GSFC 2-D) models are used to investigate the effect of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) on the atmosphere over the 1960–2010 time period. The Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) computation of the GCR-caused ionization rates are used in these simulations. GCR-caused maximum NOx increases of 4–15 % are computed in the Southern polar troposphere with associated ozone increases of 1–2 %. NOx increases of ∼ 1–6 % are calculated for the lower stratosphere with associated ozone decreases of 0.2–1 %. The primary impact of GCRs on ozone was due to their production of NOx. The impact of GCRs varies with the atmospheric chlorine loading, sulfate aerosol loading, and solar cycle variation. Because of the interference between the NOx and ClOx ozone loss cycles (e.g., the ClO + NO2 + M → ClONO2 + M reaction) and the change in the importance of ClOx in the ozone budget, GCRs cause larger atmospheric impacts with less chlorine loading. GCRs also cause larger atmospheric impacts with less sulfate aerosol loading and for years closer to solar minimum. GCR-caused decreases of annual average global total ozone (AAGTO) were computed to be 0.2 % or less with GCR-caused tropospheric column ozone increases of 0.08 % or less and GCR-caused stratospheric column ozone decreases of 0.23 % or less. Although these computed ozone impacts are small, GCRs provide a natural influence on ozone and need to be quantified over long time periods.
No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model version 4 (WACCM4) is used to quantify solar cycle impacts, including both irradiance and particle precipitation, on the middle atmosphere. Results are compared to previous work using WACCM version 3 (WACCM3) to estimate the sensitivity of simulated solar cycle effects to model modifications. The residual circulation in WACCM4 is stronger than in WACCM3, leading to larger solar cycle effects from energetic particle precipitation; this impacts polar stratospheric odd nitrogen and ozone, as well as polar mesospheric temperatures. The cold pole problem, which is present in both versions, is exacerbated in WACCM4, leading to more ozone loss in the Antarctic stratosphere. Relative to WACCM3, a westerly shift in the WACCM4 zonal winds in the tropical stratosphere and mesosphere, and a strengthening and poleward shift of the Antarctic polar night jet, are attributed to inclusion of the QBO and changes in the gravity wave parameterization in WACCM4. Solar cycle effects in WACCM3 and WACCM4 are qualitatively similar. However, the EPP-induced increase from solar minimum to solar maximum in polar stratospheric NOy is about twice as large in WACCM4 as in WACCM3; correspondingly, maximum increases in polar O3 loss from solar min to solar max are more than twice as large in WACCM4. This does not cause large differences in the WACCM3 versus WACCM4 solar cycle responses in temperature and wind. Overall, these results provide a framework for future studies using WACCM to analyze the impacts of the solar cycle on the middle atmosphere.
No preview · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Energetic particle precipitation (EPP) during the 2003–2004 Arctic winter led to the production and subsequent transport of reactive odd nitrogen (NOx = NO + NO2) from the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) into the stratosphere. This caused NOx enhancements in the polar upper stratosphere in April 2004 that were unprecedented in the satellite record. Simulations of the 2003–2004 Arctic winter with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model using Specified Dynamics (SD-WACCM) are compared to satellite measurements to assess our understanding of the observed NOx enhancements. The comparisons show that SD-WACCM clearly displays the descent of NOx produced by EPP but underestimates the enhancements by at least a factor of four. Comparisons with NO measurements in January and February indicate that SD-WACCM most likely underestimates EPP-induced NO production locally in the mesosphere because it does not include precipitation of high energy electrons. Comparisons with temperature measurements suggest that SD-WACCM does not properly simulate recovery from a sudden stratospheric warming in early January, resulting in insufficient transport from the MLT into the stratosphere. Both of these factors probably contribute to the inability of SD-WACCM to simulate the stratospheric NOx enhancements, although their relative importance is unclear. The work highlights the importance of considering the full spectrum of precipitating electrons in order to fully understand the impact of EPP on the atmosphere. It also suggests a need for high-quality meteorological data and measurements of NOx throughout the polar winter MLT.
No preview · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Measurements of the diurnal cycle of potassium (K) atoms between 80 and 110 km have been made during October (for the years 2004-2011) using a Doppler lidar at Kühlungsborn, Germany (54.1°N, 11.7°E). A pronounced diurnal variation is observed in the K number density, which is explored by using a detailed description of the neutral and ionized chemistry of K in a three dimensional chemistry climate model. The model captures both the amplitude and phase of the diurnal and semi-diurnal variability of the layer, although the peak diurnal amplitude around 90 km is overestimated. The model shows that the total potassium density (≈ K + K+ + KHCO3) exhibits little diurnal variation at each altitude, and the diurnal variations are largely driven by photochemical conversion between these reservoir species. In contrast, tidally-driven vertical transport has a small effect at this mid-latitude location, and diurnal fluctuations in temperature are of little significance because they are small and the chemistry of K is relatively temperature-independent.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present a comparison of the temperature and sodium layer properties observed by the ALOMAR Na lidar (69.3°N, 16.0°E) and simulated by the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model with specified dynamics and implemented sodium chemistry (WACCM-Na). To constrain the meteorological fields below 60 km, we use MERRA and GEOS-5. For the years 2008 to 2012, we analyze daily averages of temperature between 80.5 km and 101.5 km altitude, and of the Na layer's peak height, peak density, and centroid height. Both model runs are able to reproduce the pronounced seasonal cycle of Na number density and temperature at high latitudes very well. Especially between 86.5 km and 95.5 km, the measured and simulated temperatures agree very well. The lidar measurements confirm the model predictions that the January 2012 stratospheric warming led to large variation in temperature and Na density. The correlation coefficient between Na number density and temperature is positive for almost all altitudes in the lidar data, but not in the simulations. On average, the centroid height and peak height measured by lidar is about 2 km to 3 km higher than simulated by WACCM-Na.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Global climate models that do not include interactive middle atmosphere chemistry, such as most of those contributing to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, typically specify stratospheric ozone using monthly-mean, zonal-mean values, and linearly interpolate to the time resolution of the model. We show that this method leads to significant biases in the simulated climate of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) over the late 20th Century. Previous studies have attributed similar biases in simulated SH climate change to the effect of the spatial smoothing of the specified ozone, i.e., to using zonal-mean concentrations. We here show that the bias in climate trends due to undersampling of the rapid temporal changes in ozone during the seasonal evolution of the Antarctic ozone hole is considerable and reaches all the way into the troposphere. Our results suggest the bias can be substantially reduced by specifying daily ozone concentrations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Estimates of the global influx of cosmic dust are highly uncertain, ranging from 0.4-110 t/d. All meteoric debris that enters the Earth's atmosphere is eventually transported to the surface. The downward fluxes of meteoric metals like mesospheric Na and Fe, in the region below where they are vaporized and where the majority of these species are still in atomic form, are equal to their meteoric ablation influxes, which in turn, are proportional to the total cosmic dust influx. Doppler lidar measurements of mesospheric Na fluxes made throughout the year at the Starfire Optical Range, NM (35°N) are combined with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) predictions of the relative geographic variations of the key wave-induced vertical transport processes, to infer the global influxes of Na vapor and cosmic dust. The global mean vertical Na flux is estimated to be -16,100 ± 3,200 atoms/cm2/s at 87.5 km altitude, which corresponds to 278 ± 54 kg/d for the global input of Na vapor and 60 ± 16 t/d for the global influx of cosmic dust.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) temperature data during 2002 through 2013, and covering 20-110 km altitude between ±83° latitude are analyzed to determine the dependence of middle atmosphere temperatureson solar flux, as parameterized by a linear relation with 81-day mean values of the 10.7-cm solar radio flux, F10.7a. The basic data analyzed are 60-day mean values, which represent zonal- and local-time-means. Analysis is conducted on bothfixed altitude and fixed pressure levels. Below 70 km, the sensitivity of SABER annual-mean temperatures is of order 1-2 K per 100 solar flux units (100sfu) when data are analyzed on fixed altitude levels. At 85 km this increases to 3-6 K/100sfu between ±60° latitude. At 95 km, values of order 4-6 K/100sfu are found over the latitude range ±50° with values of order 10-14 K/100sfu at higher latitudes in both hemispheres; these values increase to 5-11 K/100sfu and 13-29 K/100sfu, respectively, at 105 km. Comparisons are made with similarly-analyzed temperatures from the NCAR Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). At 85 km, the WACCM response is similar to observed but above that level WACCM predicts a lower response by a factor of about 2 at 95 km. On the other hand, below 70 km, the sensitivity of WACCM annual-mean temperatures is stronger than SABER (~3 K/100sfu). When analysis is instead performed on pressure levels, the response in the lower thermosphere increases, especially at 105 km where changes of 29 to 51 K/100sfu are seen in SABER annual-mean temperatures.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We here present, document and validate a new atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM1): the Specified Chemistry Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (SC-WACCM). As the name implies, SC-WACCM is a middle atmosphere-resolving model with prescribed, rather than interactive chemistry. Ozone concentrations are specified throughout the atmosphere, using zonal and monthly mean climatologies computed by a companion integration with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). Above 65 km, in addition, the climatological chemical and shortwave heating, nitrogen oxide, atomic and molecular oxygen and carbon dioxide are also prescribed from the companion WACCM integrations.We carefully compare the climatology and the climate variability of pre-industrial integrations of SC-WACCM and WACCM each coupled with active land, ocean and sea-ice components. We note some differences in upper stratospheric and lower mesospheric temperature, just below the 65 km transition level, due to the diurnal ozone cycle that is not captured when monthly mean ozone is used. Nonetheless, we find that the climatology and variability of the stratosphere, the troposphere and surface climate are nearly identical in SC-WACCM and WACCM. Notably, the frequency and amplitude of Northern Hemisphere stratospheric sudden warmings in the two integrations are not significantly different. Also, we compare WACCM and SC-WACCM to CCSM4, the “low-top” version of CESM1, and we find very significant differences in the stratospheric climatology and variability.The removal of the chemistry reduces the computational cost of SC-WACCM to approximately one half of WACCM: in fact, SC-WACCM is only 2.5 times more expensive than CCSM4 at the same horizontal resolution. This considerable reduction in computational cost makes the new SC-WACCM component of CESM1 ideally suited for studies of stratosphere-troposphere dynamical coupling and, more generally, the role of the stratosphere in the climate system.
Preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Future changes in the stratospheric circulation could have an important impact on Northern winter tropospheric climate change, given that sea level pressure (SLP) responds not only to tropospheric circulation variations but also to vertically coherent variations in troposphere-stratosphere circulation. Here we assess Northern winter stratospheric change and its potential to influence surface climate change in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project – phase 5 (CMIP5) multi-model ensemble. In the stratosphere at high latitudes, an easterly change in zonally averaged zonal wind is found for the majority of the CMIP5 models, under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenario. Comparable results are also found in the 1% CO2 increase per year projections, indicating that the stratospheric easterly change is common feature in future climate projections. This stratospheric wind change, however, shows a significant spread among the models. By using linear regression, we quantify the impact of tropical upper troposphere warming, polar amplification and the stratospheric wind change on SLP. We find that the inter-model spread in stratospheric wind change contributes substantially to the inter-model spread in Arctic SLP change. The role of the stratosphere in determining part of the spread in SLP change is supported by the fact that the SLP change lags the stratospheric zonally averaged wind change. Taken together, these findings provide further support for the importance of simulating the coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere, to narrow the uncertainty in the future projection of tropospheric circulation changes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been known since the 1960s that the layers of Na and K atoms, which occur between 80 and 105 km in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of meteoric ablation, exhibit completely different seasonal behavior. In the extratropics Na varies annually, with a pronounced wintertime maximum and summertime minimum. However, K varies semiannually with a small summertime maximum and minima at the equinoxes. This contrasting behavior has never been satisfactorily explained. Here we use a combination of electronic structure and chemical kinetic rate theory to determine two key differences in the chemistries of K and Na. First, the neutralization of K+ ions is only favored at low temperatures during summer. Second, cycling between K and its major neutral reservoir KHCO3 is essentially temperature independent. A whole atmosphere model incorporating this new chemistry, together with a meteor input function, now correctly predicts the seasonal behavior of the K layer.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Geophysical Research Letters
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigate the relative role of volcanic eruptions,
El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the quasibiennial
oscillation (QBO) in the quasi-decadal signal in the
tropical stratosphere with regard to temperature and ozone
commonly attributed to the 11 yr solar cycle. For this purpose,
we perform transient simulations with the Whole Atmosphere
Community Climate Model forced from 1960 to
2004 with an 11 yr solar cycle in irradiance and different
combinations of other forcings. An improved multiple linear
regression technique is used to diagnose the 11 yr solar signal
in the simulations. One set of simulations includes all observed
forcings, and is thereby aimed at closely reproducing
observations. Three idealized sets exclude ENSO variability,
volcanic aerosol forcing, and QBO in tropical stratospheric
winds, respectively. Differences in the derived solar response
in the tropical stratosphere in the four sets quantify the impact
of ENSO, volcanic events and the QBO in attributing
quasi-decadal changes to the solar cycle in the model simulations.
The novel regression approach shows that most of
the apparent solar-induced lower-stratospheric temperature
and ozone increase diagnosed in the simulations with all observed
forcings is due to two major volcanic eruptions (i.e.,
El Chichón in 1982 and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991). This is caused
by the alignment of these eruptions with periods of high solar
activity. While it is feasible to detect a robust solar signal
in the middle and upper tropical stratosphere, this is not the
case in the tropical lower stratosphere, at least in a 45 yr simulation.
The present results suggest that in the tropical lower
stratosphere, the portion of decadal variability that can be
unambiguously linked to the solar cycle may be smaller than
Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For atmospheric tides driven by solar heating, the database of climate model output used in the most recent assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms and extends the authors' earlier results based on the previous generation of models. Both the present study and the earlier one examine the surface pressure signature of the tides, but the new database removes a shortcoming of the earlier study in which model simulations were not strictly comparable to observations. The present study confirms an approximate consistency among observations and all model simulations, despite variation of model tops from 31 to 144 km. On its face, this result is surprising because the dominant (semidiurnal) component of the tides is forced mostly by ozone heating around 30-70-km altitude. Classical linear tide calculations and occasional numerical experimentation have long suggested that models with low tops achieve some consistency with observations by means of compensating errors, with wave reflection from the model top making up for reduced ozone forcing. Future work with the new database may confirm this hypothesis by additional classical calculations and analyses of the ozone heating profiles and wave reflection in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) models. The new generation of models also extends CMIP's purview to free-atmosphere fields including the middle atmosphere and above.
Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Production of neutral species such as NOx(N, NO, and NO2) during particle-induced ionization events plays an important role in the chemistry of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) region, especially in high latitudes. The effective production rate of NOx is composed of the direct production in reactions associated with the ionization or dissociation process and of indirect production during subsequent ionic reactions and recombination. A state of the art ion chemistry model is used to study the dependence of the effective production rate of NOx on several atmospheric parameters such as density, temperature, and abundance of atmospheric constituents and trace gases. The resulting effective production rates vary significantly, depending on the atmospheric state, and reach values between 1.2 NOx per ion pair in the lower mesosphere and 1.9 NOx per ion pair in the lower thermosphere. In this paper, an alternative approach to obtain realistic NOx production rates without running a full ion chemistry model is discussed; a database setup and readout system is used to replace ion chemistry calculations. It is compared to the full ion chemistry model and to a thermospheric reduced ion chemistry model combined with constant rate estimation below the mesopause. Database readout performs better than the constant estimate at all altitudes, where above 100km reduced ion chemistry better reproduces full ion chemistry, but database readout performs better in terms of numerical cost.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mg and Mg+ concentration fields in the upper mesosphere/lower thermosphere (UMLT) region are retrieved from SCIAMACHY/Envisat limb measurements of Mg and Mg+ dayglow emissions using a 2-D tomographic retrieval approach. The time series of monthly mean Mg and Mg+ number density and vertical column density in different latitudinal regions are presented. Data from the limb mesosphere-thermosphere mode of SCIAMACHY/Envisat are used, which cover the 50 to 150 km altitude region with a vertical sampling of g‰3.3 km and latitudes up to 82°. The high latitudes are not observed in the winter months, because there is no dayglow emission during polar night. The measurements were performed every 14 days from mid-2008 until April 2012. Mg profiles show a peak at around 90 km altitude with a density between 750 cm−3 and 1500 cm−3. Mg does not show strong seasonal variation at latitudes below 40°. For higher latitudes the density is lower and only in the Northern Hemisphere a seasonal cycle with a summer minimum is observed. The Mg+ peak occurs 5-15 km above the neutral Mg peak altitude. These ions have a significant seasonal cycle with a summer maximum in both hemispheres at mid and high latitudes. The strongest seasonal variations of Mg+ are observed at latitudes between 20 and 40° and the density at the peak altitude ranges from 500 cm−3 to 4000 cm−3. The peak altitude of the ions shows a latitudinal dependence with a maximum at mid latitudes that is up to 10 km higher than the peak altitude at the equator.
The SCIAMACHY measurements are compared to other measurements and WACCM model results. The WACCM results show a significant seasonal variability for Mg with a summer minimum, which is more clearly pronounced than for SCIAMACHY, and globally a higher peak density than the SCIAMACHY results. Although the peak density of both is not in agreement, the vertical column density agrees well, because SCIAMACHY and WACCM profiles have different widths. The agreement between SCIAMACHY and WACCM results is much better for Mg+ with both showing the same seasonality and similar peak density. However, there are also minor differences, e.g. WACCM showing a nearly constant altitude of the Mg+ layer's peak density for all latitudes and seasons.
No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:  We investigate the influence of major sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) and elevated stratopause (ES) events in the Northern Hemisphere winter on the transport of NOx produced by energetic particle precipitation (EPP) from the mesosphere–lower thermosphere to the stratosphere using the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). Increases in NOx following a major SSW and/or ES event are in excess of 100% compared to winters when no major SSW or ES event occurred. The increase in NOx is attributed to an increase in the descending branch of the residual circulation () following the event. The timing of the event strongly affects the amount of NOx that descends to the stratosphere: the earlier the event occurs, the more NOx descends to the stratosphere. We also quantify the amount of NOx produced by EPP descending to the stratosphere in each winter and find that the largest increases in NOx are in years that have a major SSW followed by an ES event early in the season (December or early January). The strength of following an event shows a very strong seasonal dependence and explains why the timing of the event affects the transport of NOx.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:  The hydrological impact of enhancing Earth's albedo by solar radiation management is investigated using simulations from 12 Earth System models contributing to the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). We contrast an idealized experiment, G1, where the global mean radiative forcing is kept at preindustrial conditions by reducing insolation while the CO2 concentration is quadrupled to a 4×CO2 experiment. The reduction of evapotranspiration over land with instantaneously increasing CO2 concentrations in both experiments largely contributes to an initial reduction in evaporation. A warming surface associated with the transient adjustment in 4×CO2 generates an increase of global precipitation by around 6.9% with large zonal and regional changes in both directions, including a precipitation increase of 10% over Asia and a reduction of 7% for the North American summer monsoon. Reduced global evaporation persists in G1 with temperatures close to preindustrial conditions. Global precipitation is reduced by around 4.5%, and significant reductions occur over monsoonal land regions: East Asia (6%), South Africa (5%), North America (7%), and South America (6%). The general precipitation performance in models is discussed in comparison to observations. In contrast to the 4×CO2 experiment, where the frequency of months with heavy precipitation intensity is increased by over 50% in comparison to the control, a reduction of up to 20% is simulated in G1. These changes in precipitation in both total amount and frequency of extremes point to a considerable weakening of the hydrological cycle in a geoengineered world.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:  A global model of sodium in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere has been developed within the framework of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). The standard fully interactive WACCM chemistry module has been augmented with a chemistry scheme that includes nine neutral and ionized sodium species. Meteoric ablation provides the source of sodium in the model and is represented as a combination of a meteoroid input function (MIF) and a parameterized ablation model. The MIF provides the seasonally and latitudinally varying meteoric flux which is modeled taking into consideration the astronomical origins of sporadic meteors and considers variations in particle entry angle, velocity, mass, and the differential ablation of the chemical constituents. WACCM simulations show large variations in the sodium constituents over time scales from days to months. Seasonality of sodium constituents is strongly affected by variations in the MIF and transport via the mean meridional wind. In particular, the summer to winter hemisphere flow leads to the highest sodium species concentrations and loss rates occurring over the winter pole. In the Northern Hemisphere, this winter maximum can be dramatically affected by stratospheric sudden warmings. Simulations of the January 2009 major warming event show that it caused a short-term decrease in the sodium column over the polar cap that was followed by a factor of 3 increase in the following weeks. Overall, the modeled distribution of atomic sodium in WACCM agrees well with both ground-based and satellite observations. Given the strong sensitivity of the sodium layer to dynamical motions, reproducing its variability provides a stringent test of global models and should help to constrain key atmospheric variables in this poorly sampled region of the atmosphere.