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On the Existence of Storm-Tracks

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Given that middle latitude weather systems transport heat in a manner such as to weaken the baroclinicity that is thought to be crucial to their growth, it is perhaps surprising that concentrated regions of such eddy activity, i.e. storm-tracks, are found in the Northern Hemisphere winter. The existence and possible self-maintenance of storm-tracks is investigated using a linear, stationary wave model with storm-track region forcings taken from data averaged over a number of winters. It is found that the direct thermal effect of the eddies does indeed act against the existence of the storm-track. Their vorticity fluxes lead to some reduction of this effect. It is argued that the mean diabatic heating in the storm-track region is an indirect eddy effect. This heating is found to maintain the mean maximum in baroclinicity in the region. Further, the mean low-level flow induced by the eddy effects is such as to enhance the warm western oceanic boundary currents that are crucial to the existence of the storm-tracks. The extent to which the Northern Hemisphere storm-tracks can be considered self-maintaining is discussed.

Abstract

Given that middle latitude weather systems transport heat in a manner such as to weaken the baroclinicity that is thought to be crucial to their growth, it is perhaps surprising that concentrated regions of such eddy activity, i.e. storm-tracks, are found in the Northern Hemisphere winter. The existence and possible self-maintenance of storm-tracks is investigated using a linear, stationary wave model with storm-track region forcings taken from data averaged over a number of winters. It is found that the direct thermal effect of the eddies does indeed act against the existence of the storm-track. Their vorticity fluxes lead to some reduction of this effect. It is argued that the mean diabatic heating in the storm-track region is an indirect eddy effect. This heating is found to maintain the mean maximum in baroclinicity in the region. Further, the mean low-level flow induced by the eddy effects is such as to enhance the warm western oceanic boundary currents that are crucial to the existence of the storm-tracks. The extent to which the Northern Hemisphere storm-tracks can be considered self-maintaining is discussed.

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