An overview is given of current issues concerning the coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere. The tropopause region, more generally the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere, is the region of direct contact where exchange of material takes place. Dynamical coupling through angular momentum transfer by waves occurs nonlocally, and provides a generally negative torque on the stratosphere which drives an equator-to-pole circulation (i.e., towards the Earth’s axis of rotation). This wave-driven circulation is the principal mechanism for intraseasonal and interannual variability in the extratropical stratosphere. Although such variability is generally dynamical in origin, there are important chemical and radiative feedbacks. The location of the tropopause has implications for radiative forcing of climate, through its effect on the distribution of relatively short-lived greenhouse gases (ozone and water vapour). Some outstanding puzzles in our current understanding are identified. Attention is focused on possible climate sensitivities, and how these may be tested and constrained. Results from the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM), a fully interactive radiative-chemical-dynamical general circulation model, are used to illustrate some of the points.
2002 by Meteorological Society of Japan