The Global Atmospheric Response to Low-Frequency Tropical Forcing: Zonally Averaged Basic States

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  • 1 Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, California
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Abstract

The extratropical response to localized, low-frequency tropical forcing is examined using a linearized, non-divergent barotropic model on a sphere. Zonal-mean basic states characterized by solid-body rotation or critical latitudes are considered. An analytical analysis based on WKB and ray tracing methods shows that, in contrast to stationary Rossby waves, westward moving, low-frequency Rossby waves can propagate through the tropical easterlies into the extratropics. It is shown analytically that the difference between the stationary and low-frequency ray paths is proportional to the forcing frequency and inversely proportional to the zonal wavenumber cubed. An expression for the disturbance amplitude is derived that shows the ability of the forced waves to maintain their strength well into middle latitudes depends on their meridional wave scale and northward group velocity, both of which are functions of the slowly varying background flow.

A local energetics analysis shows that the combination of energy dispersion from the forcing region and energy extraction from the equatorward flank of the midlatitude jet produces disturbances that have the greatest impact on the extratropical circulation. Under the assumption that the forcing amplitude is independent of frequency, this impact is largest when the tropical forcing period is in the range 10–20 days.

Abstract

The extratropical response to localized, low-frequency tropical forcing is examined using a linearized, non-divergent barotropic model on a sphere. Zonal-mean basic states characterized by solid-body rotation or critical latitudes are considered. An analytical analysis based on WKB and ray tracing methods shows that, in contrast to stationary Rossby waves, westward moving, low-frequency Rossby waves can propagate through the tropical easterlies into the extratropics. It is shown analytically that the difference between the stationary and low-frequency ray paths is proportional to the forcing frequency and inversely proportional to the zonal wavenumber cubed. An expression for the disturbance amplitude is derived that shows the ability of the forced waves to maintain their strength well into middle latitudes depends on their meridional wave scale and northward group velocity, both of which are functions of the slowly varying background flow.

A local energetics analysis shows that the combination of energy dispersion from the forcing region and energy extraction from the equatorward flank of the midlatitude jet produces disturbances that have the greatest impact on the extratropical circulation. Under the assumption that the forcing amplitude is independent of frequency, this impact is largest when the tropical forcing period is in the range 10–20 days.

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