On the Predictability of Quasi-Geostrophic Flow: The Effects of Beta and Baroclinicity

Geoffrey K. Vallis Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093

Search for other papers by Geoffrey K. Vallis in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

The equilibrium statistics and predictability properties of one- and two-layer quasi-geostrophic flow are examined with the aid of a numerical model. The effect of beta in one-layer flow is to slow the transfer of energy into larger scales and to increase the predictability. In two-layer flow, when beta is zero, energy caters the system via baroclinic instability of the mean Row at very large scales and most energy transfer is confined to low wavenumbers. When beta is non-zero, energy enters at higher wavenumber (in baroclinic modes mainly) before cascading preferentially to lower wavenumber zonal barotropic modes. The predictability of two-layer flow is not significantly altered by beta, because beta increases the range of wavenumber over which significant nonlinear energy transfer occurs. The predictability times of the long waves are found to be always larger than those of the short waves, even when the initial error is spread evenly acres wavenumbers. Reducing the mean baroclinicity increases the predictability time. Two-layer flow is lest predictable than one-layer flow of the same barotropic energy, because of the effects of barolinic instability and the transfer of energy from baroclinic modes.

Abstract

The equilibrium statistics and predictability properties of one- and two-layer quasi-geostrophic flow are examined with the aid of a numerical model. The effect of beta in one-layer flow is to slow the transfer of energy into larger scales and to increase the predictability. In two-layer flow, when beta is zero, energy caters the system via baroclinic instability of the mean Row at very large scales and most energy transfer is confined to low wavenumbers. When beta is non-zero, energy enters at higher wavenumber (in baroclinic modes mainly) before cascading preferentially to lower wavenumber zonal barotropic modes. The predictability of two-layer flow is not significantly altered by beta, because beta increases the range of wavenumber over which significant nonlinear energy transfer occurs. The predictability times of the long waves are found to be always larger than those of the short waves, even when the initial error is spread evenly acres wavenumbers. Reducing the mean baroclinicity increases the predictability time. Two-layer flow is lest predictable than one-layer flow of the same barotropic energy, because of the effects of barolinic instability and the transfer of energy from baroclinic modes.

Save