Abstract

A polar–subtropical jet superposition is preceded by the development of a polar cyclonic potential vorticity (PV) anomaly at high latitudes and a tropical anticyclonic PV anomaly at subtropical latitudes. A confluent large-scale flow pattern can lead to the juxtaposition of these respective PV anomalies at middle latitudes, resulting in the addition of the nondivergent circulations induced by each PV anomaly and an increase in upper-tropospheric wind speeds at the location of jet superposition. Once these PV anomalies become juxtaposed, vertical motion within the near-jet environment facilitates the advection and diabatic redistribution of tropopause-level PV, and the subsequent formation of the steep, single-step tropopause structure that characterizes a jet superposition. Given the importance of vertical motion during the formation of jet superpositions, this study adopts a quasigeostrophic (QG) diagnostic approach to quantify the production of vertical motion during three types of jet superposition events: polar dominant, eastern subtropical dominant, and western subtropical dominant. The diagnosis reveals that the geostrophic wind induced by polar cyclonic QGPV anomalies is predominantly responsible for QG vertical motion in the vicinity of jet superpositions. The QG vertical motion diagnosed from the along-isotherm component of the Q vector, which represents the vertical motion associated with synoptic-scale waves, is dominant within the near-jet environment. The QG vertical motion diagnosed from the across-isotherm component of the Q vector, which represents the vertical motion associated with frontal circulations in the vicinity of the jet, is subordinate within the near-jet environment, but is relatively more important during eastern subtropical dominant events compared to polar dominant and western subtropical dominant events.

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