Quantifying the Eddy Feedback and the Persistence of the Zonal Index in an Idealized Atmospheric Model

Gang Chen Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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R. Alan Plumb Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Abstract

An idealized atmospheric model is employed to quantify the strength of the eddy feedback and the persistence of the zonal index. The strength of the surface frictional damping on the zonal index is varied, and an external zonal momentum forcing is included to compensate for the momentum change associated with the friction change such that the climatological jet latitude and shape are unchanged.

The model can generate a nearly identical climatology and leading mode of the zonal mean zonal wind for different frictional damping rates, except when the jet undergoes a regime transition. For those experiments without a regime transition, as the surface friction is increased, the strength of eddy feedback is enhanced but the zonal index becomes less persistent. A simple feedback model suggests that the e-folding decorrelation time scale of the zonal index can be determined by the frictional damping rate and the strength of eddy feedback. The strength of eddy feedback is found to be related to the instantaneous vertical wind shears near the surface controlled by the frictional damping. Furthermore, the climate response to an external zonal torque is proportional to the decorrelation time scale, although the simple prediction used here overestimates the climate response by a factor of 2.

Corresponding author address: Gang Chen, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139. Email: gchenpu@mit.edu

Abstract

An idealized atmospheric model is employed to quantify the strength of the eddy feedback and the persistence of the zonal index. The strength of the surface frictional damping on the zonal index is varied, and an external zonal momentum forcing is included to compensate for the momentum change associated with the friction change such that the climatological jet latitude and shape are unchanged.

The model can generate a nearly identical climatology and leading mode of the zonal mean zonal wind for different frictional damping rates, except when the jet undergoes a regime transition. For those experiments without a regime transition, as the surface friction is increased, the strength of eddy feedback is enhanced but the zonal index becomes less persistent. A simple feedback model suggests that the e-folding decorrelation time scale of the zonal index can be determined by the frictional damping rate and the strength of eddy feedback. The strength of eddy feedback is found to be related to the instantaneous vertical wind shears near the surface controlled by the frictional damping. Furthermore, the climate response to an external zonal torque is proportional to the decorrelation time scale, although the simple prediction used here overestimates the climate response by a factor of 2.

Corresponding author address: Gang Chen, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139. Email: gchenpu@mit.edu

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