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Multiple Weather Regimes and Baroclinically Forced Spherical Resonance

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden
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Abstract

Systematically recurrent, geographically fixed weather regimes forced by a single isolated mountain in a two-layer, high-resolution, quasigeostrophic model modified for the sphere are found to be robust phenomena. While the climatological stationary wave is often confined to (or has maximum amplitude in) the region just downstream of the orography, giving the appearance of a wave train propagating into the Tropics, the regional maximum centers of low-frequency variance appear around the hemisphere, giving the appearance of zonal resonance or some type of zonally confined propagation. This result is not anticipated in light of Rossby wave dispersion theory on the sphere. On the other hand, baroclinic disturbances developing on a meridional temperature gradient of finite extent force subtropical and polar easterlies as well as a sharpened midlatitude westerly jet, which provides a zonal waveguide (by refraction and/or reflection) for the Rossby waves. These conditions are favorable for the establishment of multiple weather regimes. The baroclinicity of the atmosphere is then continuously forcing a mean state that favors forced zonal propagation, counteracting the meridional dispersion generated by the spherical geometry alone. These ideas suggest that the multiple-equilibria theories may be more applicable to the atmosphere than originally suggested by linear dispersion theory on the sphere. It may also help explain why channel models work as well as they do even for the largest scales.

* Current affiliation: Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Brian Reinhold, Department of Meteorology, University of Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.

Email: brian@misu.su.se

Abstract

Systematically recurrent, geographically fixed weather regimes forced by a single isolated mountain in a two-layer, high-resolution, quasigeostrophic model modified for the sphere are found to be robust phenomena. While the climatological stationary wave is often confined to (or has maximum amplitude in) the region just downstream of the orography, giving the appearance of a wave train propagating into the Tropics, the regional maximum centers of low-frequency variance appear around the hemisphere, giving the appearance of zonal resonance or some type of zonally confined propagation. This result is not anticipated in light of Rossby wave dispersion theory on the sphere. On the other hand, baroclinic disturbances developing on a meridional temperature gradient of finite extent force subtropical and polar easterlies as well as a sharpened midlatitude westerly jet, which provides a zonal waveguide (by refraction and/or reflection) for the Rossby waves. These conditions are favorable for the establishment of multiple weather regimes. The baroclinicity of the atmosphere is then continuously forcing a mean state that favors forced zonal propagation, counteracting the meridional dispersion generated by the spherical geometry alone. These ideas suggest that the multiple-equilibria theories may be more applicable to the atmosphere than originally suggested by linear dispersion theory on the sphere. It may also help explain why channel models work as well as they do even for the largest scales.

* Current affiliation: Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Brian Reinhold, Department of Meteorology, University of Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.

Email: brian@misu.su.se

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