Downstream Self-Destruction of Storm Tracks

Yohai Kaspi California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Tapio Schneider California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

The Northern Hemisphere storm tracks have maximum intensity over the Pacific and Atlantic basins; their intensity is reduced over the continents downstream. Here, simulations with an idealized aquaplanet general circulation model are used to demonstrate that even without continents, storm tracks have a self-determined longitudinal length scale. Their length is controlled primarily by the planetary rotation rate and is similar to that of Earth’s storm tracks for Earth’s rotation rate. Downstream, storm tracks self-destruct: the downstream eddy kinetic energy is lower than it would be without the zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks. Likely involved in the downstream self-destruction of storm tracks are the energy fluxes associated with them. The zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks enhance the energy transport through the generation of stationary eddies, and this leads to a reduced baroclinicity that persists far downstream of the eddy kinetic energy maxima.

Corresponding author address: Yohai Kaspi, California Institute of Technology 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125. E-mail: yohai@alum.mit.edu

Abstract

The Northern Hemisphere storm tracks have maximum intensity over the Pacific and Atlantic basins; their intensity is reduced over the continents downstream. Here, simulations with an idealized aquaplanet general circulation model are used to demonstrate that even without continents, storm tracks have a self-determined longitudinal length scale. Their length is controlled primarily by the planetary rotation rate and is similar to that of Earth’s storm tracks for Earth’s rotation rate. Downstream, storm tracks self-destruct: the downstream eddy kinetic energy is lower than it would be without the zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks. Likely involved in the downstream self-destruction of storm tracks are the energy fluxes associated with them. The zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks enhance the energy transport through the generation of stationary eddies, and this leads to a reduced baroclinicity that persists far downstream of the eddy kinetic energy maxima.

Corresponding author address: Yohai Kaspi, California Institute of Technology 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125. E-mail: yohai@alum.mit.edu
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