Nonlinear Axially Symmetric Circulations in a Nearly Inviscid Atmosphere

Isaac M. Held Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540

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Arthur Y. Hou Center for Earth and Planetary Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

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Abstract

The structure of certain axially symmetric circulations in a stably stratified, differentially heated, rotating Boussinesq fluid on a sphere is analyzed. A simple approximate theory [similar to that introduced by Schneider (1977)] is developed for the case in which the fluid is sufficiently inviscid that the poleward flow in the Hadley cell is nearly angular momentum conserving. The theory predicts the width of the Hadley cell, the total poleward heat flux, the latitude of the upper level jet in the zonal wind, and the distribution of surface easterlies and westerlies. Fundamental differences between such nearly inviscid circulations and the more commonly studied viscous axisymmetric flows are emphasized. The theory is checked against numerical solutions to the model equations.

Abstract

The structure of certain axially symmetric circulations in a stably stratified, differentially heated, rotating Boussinesq fluid on a sphere is analyzed. A simple approximate theory [similar to that introduced by Schneider (1977)] is developed for the case in which the fluid is sufficiently inviscid that the poleward flow in the Hadley cell is nearly angular momentum conserving. The theory predicts the width of the Hadley cell, the total poleward heat flux, the latitude of the upper level jet in the zonal wind, and the distribution of surface easterlies and westerlies. Fundamental differences between such nearly inviscid circulations and the more commonly studied viscous axisymmetric flows are emphasized. The theory is checked against numerical solutions to the model equations.

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