Baroclinic Neutrality and the Tropopause

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  • 1 Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

It is noted that the atmosphere has a baroclinically neutral state that permits strong temperature gradients at the ground. In this state, the concentrated potential vorticity gradient at the ground is separated from the concentrated potential vorticity gradient at the tropopause by a region where the potential vorticity gradient is zero. The resulting basic state is analogous to the basic state in the Eady problem. A minimum meridional wavenumber is established by the width of the subtropical jet, and neutrality is established by moving the tropopause to a sufficient height so that the total wavenumber corresponds to the short-wave cutoff in the Eady problem. The resulting height is approximately the observed tropopause height.

Abstract

It is noted that the atmosphere has a baroclinically neutral state that permits strong temperature gradients at the ground. In this state, the concentrated potential vorticity gradient at the ground is separated from the concentrated potential vorticity gradient at the tropopause by a region where the potential vorticity gradient is zero. The resulting basic state is analogous to the basic state in the Eady problem. A minimum meridional wavenumber is established by the width of the subtropical jet, and neutrality is established by moving the tropopause to a sufficient height so that the total wavenumber corresponds to the short-wave cutoff in the Eady problem. The resulting height is approximately the observed tropopause height.

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