The Characteristic Rossby Frequency

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
  • | 2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
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Abstract

The characteristic Rossby frequency is defined for a fixed zonal wavenumber perturbation as the variational integral of the Rayleigh-Ritz method. It is a measure of the time scale of the disturbance. For a disturbance which locally has the shape of an eigenfunction but is not global in extent, the characteristic Rossby frequency is very close to the time eigenvalue, and additionally remains unchanged under linear inviscid dynamics. Results are presented for the shallow water equations, both with and without a mean zonal wind. The characteristic Rossby frequency of a wavenumber 1 perturbation having the shape of the second symmetric Rossby mode but confined to the Northern Hemisphere is close to the corresponding Rossby frequency. This finding is helpful in understanding the behavior of the observed wavenumber 1 pattern of January 1979, which propagated westward with nearly the pure Rossby frequency but was discernible only in the Northern Hemisphere (as discussed by Daley and Williamson).

Abstract

The characteristic Rossby frequency is defined for a fixed zonal wavenumber perturbation as the variational integral of the Rayleigh-Ritz method. It is a measure of the time scale of the disturbance. For a disturbance which locally has the shape of an eigenfunction but is not global in extent, the characteristic Rossby frequency is very close to the time eigenvalue, and additionally remains unchanged under linear inviscid dynamics. Results are presented for the shallow water equations, both with and without a mean zonal wind. The characteristic Rossby frequency of a wavenumber 1 perturbation having the shape of the second symmetric Rossby mode but confined to the Northern Hemisphere is close to the corresponding Rossby frequency. This finding is helpful in understanding the behavior of the observed wavenumber 1 pattern of January 1979, which propagated westward with nearly the pure Rossby frequency but was discernible only in the Northern Hemisphere (as discussed by Daley and Williamson).

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