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Hadley Circulation Response to Orbital Precession. Part I: Aquaplanets

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  • 1 Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
  • 2 California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • 3 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

The response of the monsoonal and annual-mean Hadley circulation to orbital precession is examined in an idealized atmospheric general circulation model with an aquaplanet slab-ocean lower boundary. Contrary to expectations, the simulated monsoonal Hadley circulation is weaker when perihelion occurs at the summer solstice than when aphelion occurs at the summer solstice. The angular momentum balance and energy balance are examined to understand the mechanisms that produce this result. That the summer with stronger insolation has a weaker circulation is the result of an increase in the atmosphere’s energetic stratification, the gross moist stability, which increases more than the amount required to balance the change in atmospheric energy flux divergence necessitated by the change in top-of-atmosphere net radiation. The solstice-season changes result in annual-mean Hadley circulation changes (e.g., changes in circulation strength).

Corresponding author address: Timothy M. Merlis, Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Jadwin Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: tmerlis@princeton.edu

Abstract

The response of the monsoonal and annual-mean Hadley circulation to orbital precession is examined in an idealized atmospheric general circulation model with an aquaplanet slab-ocean lower boundary. Contrary to expectations, the simulated monsoonal Hadley circulation is weaker when perihelion occurs at the summer solstice than when aphelion occurs at the summer solstice. The angular momentum balance and energy balance are examined to understand the mechanisms that produce this result. That the summer with stronger insolation has a weaker circulation is the result of an increase in the atmosphere’s energetic stratification, the gross moist stability, which increases more than the amount required to balance the change in atmospheric energy flux divergence necessitated by the change in top-of-atmosphere net radiation. The solstice-season changes result in annual-mean Hadley circulation changes (e.g., changes in circulation strength).

Corresponding author address: Timothy M. Merlis, Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Jadwin Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: tmerlis@princeton.edu
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