Diabatic Heating Climatology of the Zonal Atmosphere

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  • 1 Meteorologisches Institut der Universität Bonn, 5300 Bonn 1, Federal Republic of Germany
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Abstract

The diabatic heating Q is the ultimate driving force of the general circulation and climate. We present seasonal and zonal mean estimates of Q (order of magnitude 10−5 K s−1) for the atmosphere from 15°S-90°N and from 50–1000 mb. Q comprises radiation, condensation, conduction, dissipation and diffusion; the first two terms are large, the last three are small. We compile Q indirectly by specifying (from the synoptic general circulation statistics of the MIT Library) sensible heat advective and storage terms, including the adiabatic heating, which together balance Q in the First Law of thermodynamics. An important component of the advective terms is subsynoptic-scale advection. We show that it is not restricted to boundary layer heating but also has convective-scale components of potential significance and seems to be active even in the stratosphere. However, we are not able to specify the total subsynoptic-scale advection since it is subject to considerable compensation. This causes a systematic error of the order of 10−6 K s−1 in our synoptic estimates of Q.

The meridional diabatic heating profiles show four latitude belts of different Q climate. The tropics and midlatitudes are characterized by net heating, the subtropics and the polar cap by net cooling. This pattern is visible throughout the year and reflects the net effect of the two governing, and partly balancing, components of Q: condensational heating dominates in the rainbelts, radiational cooling dominates in the dry belts. A new feature in the Q field is persistent strong beating at and above the jet stream level between 30–40°N throughout the year. We speculatively explain this effect with the subsynoptic advective terms.

Abstract

The diabatic heating Q is the ultimate driving force of the general circulation and climate. We present seasonal and zonal mean estimates of Q (order of magnitude 10−5 K s−1) for the atmosphere from 15°S-90°N and from 50–1000 mb. Q comprises radiation, condensation, conduction, dissipation and diffusion; the first two terms are large, the last three are small. We compile Q indirectly by specifying (from the synoptic general circulation statistics of the MIT Library) sensible heat advective and storage terms, including the adiabatic heating, which together balance Q in the First Law of thermodynamics. An important component of the advective terms is subsynoptic-scale advection. We show that it is not restricted to boundary layer heating but also has convective-scale components of potential significance and seems to be active even in the stratosphere. However, we are not able to specify the total subsynoptic-scale advection since it is subject to considerable compensation. This causes a systematic error of the order of 10−6 K s−1 in our synoptic estimates of Q.

The meridional diabatic heating profiles show four latitude belts of different Q climate. The tropics and midlatitudes are characterized by net heating, the subtropics and the polar cap by net cooling. This pattern is visible throughout the year and reflects the net effect of the two governing, and partly balancing, components of Q: condensational heating dominates in the rainbelts, radiational cooling dominates in the dry belts. A new feature in the Q field is persistent strong beating at and above the jet stream level between 30–40°N throughout the year. We speculatively explain this effect with the subsynoptic advective terms.

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