Climate Data

QBO: Quasi-Biennial Oscillation

The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is a quasi-periodic oscillation of the equatorial zonal wind between easterlies and westerlies in the tropical stratosphere with a mean period of 28 to 29 months. The alternating wind regimes develop at the top of the lower stratosphere and propagate downwards at about 1 km (0.6 mi) per month until they are dissipated at the tropical tropopause. Downward motion of the easterlies is usually more irregular than that of the westerlies. The amplitude of the easterly phase is about twice as strong as that of the westerly phase. At the top of the vertical QBO domain, easterlies dominate, while at the bottom, westerlies are more likely to be found. (Wikipedia)

Years of Record

1953/01 to 2012/09
temporal metadataID:




Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Missing Data Flag

missing data present

Vertical Levels

Earth system components and main variables

  1. Naujokat, B., 1986: An update of the observed quasi-biennial oscillation of the stratospheric winds over the tropics. J. Atmos. Sci., 43, 1873-1877.
  2. Baldwin, M.P. et al, 2001: The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. Reviews of Geophys., 39, 179-229.
  3. Andrews, D.G., J.R. Holton, and C.B. Leovy, 1987: Middle Atmosphere Dynamics. Academic Press, 489pp

Key Figures

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Climate Data Guide Image: QBO QBO for 1953-2012. Data source (Freie Universitat, Berlin)

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 20 Aug 2013. "The Climate Data Guide: QBO: Quasi-Biennial Oscillation." Retrieved from

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