A new method for calculating instantaneous atmospheric heat transport

Tyler Cox aDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
eInigo Insurance, London

Search for other papers by Tyler Cox in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Aaron Donohoe bPolar Science Center, Applied Physics Lab, University of Washington

Search for other papers by Aaron Donohoe in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Kyle C. Armour cSchool of Oceanography, University of Washington
aDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

Search for other papers by Kyle C. Armour in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Gerard H. Roe dDepartment of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

Search for other papers by Gerard H. Roe in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Dargan M.W. Frierson aDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

Search for other papers by Dargan M.W. Frierson in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Atmospheric heat transport (AHT) is an important piece of our climate system, but has primarily been studied at monthly or longer time scales. We introduce a new method for calculating zonal-mean meridional atmospheric heat transport (AHT) using instantaneous atmospheric fields. When time averaged, our calculations closely reproduce the climatological AHT used elsewhere in the literature to understand AHT and its trends on long timescales. In the extratropics, AHT convergence and atmospheric heating are strongly temporally correlated suggesting that AHT drives the vast majority of zonal-mean atmospheric temperature variability. Our AHT methodology separates AHT into two components, eddies and the mean-meridional circulation, which we find are negatively correlated throughout most of the mid- to high-latitudes. This negative correlation reduces the variance of total AHT compared to eddy AHT. Lastly, we find that the temporal distribution of total AHT at any given latitude is approximately symmetric.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Tyler Cox, tyler.tsc@gmail.com

Abstract

Atmospheric heat transport (AHT) is an important piece of our climate system, but has primarily been studied at monthly or longer time scales. We introduce a new method for calculating zonal-mean meridional atmospheric heat transport (AHT) using instantaneous atmospheric fields. When time averaged, our calculations closely reproduce the climatological AHT used elsewhere in the literature to understand AHT and its trends on long timescales. In the extratropics, AHT convergence and atmospheric heating are strongly temporally correlated suggesting that AHT drives the vast majority of zonal-mean atmospheric temperature variability. Our AHT methodology separates AHT into two components, eddies and the mean-meridional circulation, which we find are negatively correlated throughout most of the mid- to high-latitudes. This negative correlation reduces the variance of total AHT compared to eddy AHT. Lastly, we find that the temporal distribution of total AHT at any given latitude is approximately symmetric.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Tyler Cox, tyler.tsc@gmail.com
Save