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Or Hadas
and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The midlatitude storm tracks are among the most prominent features of extratropical climate. Despite the theoretical expectation, based on baroclinic instability theory, that baroclinic eddies strengthen with jet intensification, there is evidence that this relation breaks when the jet is intense. The most well-known case is the Pacific midwinter minimum in storm-track activity, where eddy activity is diminished in winter compared to fall and spring despite the jet being the strongest in winter. To isolate the effect of jet strength on storm activity, we conduct a series of idealized GCM experiments systematically varying jet intensity. The simulations are analyzed using Lagrangian tracking to understand the response from a single-eddy perspective. The Lagrangian analysis shows that while the response of upper-level eddies is dominated by a reduction in the amount of tracked features, the lower-level eddies’ response is also affected by a reduction in their lifetime. Analyzing the jet strength effect on the pairing between the upper- and lower-level eddies, we find that the jet intensification increases the relative speed of the upper-level eddies, breaking the baroclinic wave structure and limiting its growth. We show that the Lagrangian response correlates with a shift in the midlatitude spectrum to lower wavenumbers. This shift settles these results with linear baroclinic instability theory, as under the stronger jet conditions synoptic-scale eddies are predicted to have a suboptimal growth rate. These results can explain the midwinter suppression of storm activity over the Pacific and the difference from the Atlantic response.

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Sukyoung Lee
and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The structure and stability of Jupiter’s atmosphere is analyzed using transformed Eulerian mean (TEM) theory. Utilizing the ammonia distribution derived from microwave radiometer measurements of the Juno orbiter, the latitudinal and vertical distribution of the vertical velocity in the interior of Jupiter’s atmosphere is inferred. The resulting overturning circulation is then interpreted in the TEM framework to offer speculation of the vertical and meridional temperature distribution. At midlatitudes, the analyzed vertical velocity field shows Ferrel-cell-like patterns associated with each of the jets. A scaling analysis of the TEM overturning circulation equation suggests that in order for the Ferrel-cell-like patterns to be visible in the ammonia distribution, the static stability of Jupiter’s weather layer should be on the order of 1 × 10−2 s−1. At low latitudes, the ammonia distribution suggests strong upward motion, which is reminiscent of the rising branch of the Hadley cell where the static stability is weaker. Taken together, the analysis suggests that the temperature lapse rate in the midlatitudes is markedly smaller than that in the low latitudes. Because the cloud-top temperature is nearly uniform across all latitudes, the analysis suggests that in the interior of the weather layer, there could exist a temperature gradient between the low- and midlatitude regions.

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Yohai Kaspi
and
Glenn R. Flierl

Abstract

In this paper it is proposed that baroclinic instability of even a weak shear may play an important role in the generation and stability of the strong zonal jets observed in the atmospheres of the giant planets. The atmosphere is modeled as a two-layer structure, where the upper layer is a standard quasigeostrophic layer on a β plane and the lower layer is parameterized to represent a deep interior convective columnar structure using a negative β plane as in Ingersoll and Pollard. Linear stability theory predicts that the high wavenumber perturbations will be the dominant unstable modes for a small vertical wind shear like that inferred from observations. Here a nonlinear analytical model is developed that is truncated to one growing mode that exhibits a multiple jet meridional structure, driven by the nonlinear interaction between the eddies. In the weakly supercritical limit, this model agrees with previous weakly nonlinear theory, but it can be explored beyond this limit allowing the multiple jet–induced zonal flow to be stronger than the eddy field. Calculations with a fully nonlinear pseudospectral model produce stable meridional multijet structures when beginning from a random potential vorticity perturbation field. The instability removes energy from the background weak baroclinic shear and generates turbulent eddies that undergo an inverse energy cascade and form multijet zonal winds. The jets are the dominant feature in the instantaneous upper-layer flow, with the eddies being relatively weak. The jets scale with the Rhines length, but are strong enough to violate the barotropic stability criterion. It is shown that the basic physical mechanism for the generation and stability of the jets in the full numerical model is similar to that of the truncated model.

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Satoru Okajima
,
Hisashi Nakamura
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

Storm-track activity over the North Pacific (NP) climatologically exhibits a clear minimum in midwinter, when the westerly jet speed sharply maximizes. This counterintuitive phenomenon, referred to as the “midwinter minimum (MWM),” has been investigated from various perspectives, but the mechanisms are still to be unrevealed. Toward better understanding of this phenomenon, the present study delineates the detailed seasonal evolution of climatological-mean Eulerian statistics and energetics of migratory eddies along the NP storm track over 60 years. As a comprehensive investigation of the mechanisms for the MWM, this study has revealed that the net eddy conversion/generation rate normalized by the eddy total energy, which is independent of eddy amplitude, is indeed reduced in midwinter. The reduction from early winter occurs mainly due to the decreased effectiveness of the baroclinic energy conversion through seasonally weakened temperature fluctuations and the resultant poleward eddy heat flux. The reduced net normalized conversion/generation rate in midwinter is also found to arise in part from the seasonally enhanced kinetic energy conversion from eddies into the strongly diffluent Pacific jet around its exit. The seasonality of the net energy influx also contributes especially to the spring recovery of the net normalized conversion/generation rate. The midwinter reduction in the normalized rates of both the net energy conversion/generation and baroclinic energy conversion was more pronounced in the period before the late 1980s, during which the MWM of the storm-track activity was climatologically more prominent.

Open access
Satoru Okajima
,
Hisashi Nakamura
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The North Pacific storm-track activity is suppressed substantially under the excessively strong westerlies to form a distinct minimum in midwinter, which seems inconsistent with linear baroclinic instability theory. This “midwinter minimum” of the storm-track activity has been intensively investigated for decades as a test case for storm-track dynamics. However, the mechanisms controlling it are yet to be fully unveiled and are still under debate. Here we investigate the detailed seasonal evolution of the climatological density of surface migratory anticyclones over the North Pacific, in comparison with its counterpart for cyclones, based on a Lagrangian tracking algorithm. We demonstrate that the frequency of surface cyclones over the North Pacific maximizes in midwinter, whereas that of anticyclones exhibits a distinct midwinter minimum under the upstream influence, especially from the Japan Sea region. In midwinter, it is only on such a rare occasion that prominent weakening of the East Asian winter monsoon allows a migratory surface anticyclone to form over the Japan Sea, despite the unfavorable climatological-mean conditions due to persistent monsoonal cold-air outbreaks and the excessively strong upper-tropospheric westerlies. The midwinter minimum of the North Pacific anticyclone density suggests that anticyclones are likely the key to understanding the midwinter minimum of the North Pacific storm-track activity as measured by Eulerian eddy statistics.

Open access
Soumik Ghosh
,
Orli Lachmy
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

Climate models generally predict a poleward shift of the midlatitude circulation in response to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas concentration, but the inter-model spread of the eddy-driven jet shift is large and poorly understood. Recent studies point to the significance of midlatitude mid-tropospheric diabatic heating for the inter-model spread in the jet latitude. To examine the role of diabatic heating in the jet response to climate change, a series of simulations are performed using an idealized aquaplanet model. It is found that both increased CO2 concentration and increased saturation vapor pressure induce a similar warming response, leading to a poleward and upward shift of the midlatitude circulation. An exception to this poleward shift is found for a certain range of temperatures, where the eddy-driven jet shifts equatorward, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains essentially unchanged. This equatorward jet shift is explained by the connection between the zonal mean momentum and heat budgets: increased diabatic heating in the midlatitude mid-troposphere balances the cooling by the Ferrel cell ascending branch, enabling an equatorward shift of the Ferrel cell streamfunction and eddy-driven jet, while the latitude of the eddy heat flux remains unchanged. The equatorward jet shift and the strengthening of the midlatitude diabatic heating are found to be sensitive to the model resolution. The implications of these results for a potential reduction in the jet shift uncertainty through the improvement of convective parameterizations are discussed.

Restricted access
Ilai Guendelman
,
Darryn W. Waugh
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

Zonal jets are common in planetary atmospheres. Their character, structure, and seasonal variability depend on the planetary parameters. During solstice on Earth and Mars, there is a strong westerly jet in the winter hemisphere and weak, low-level westerlies in the ascending regions of the Hadley cell in the summer hemisphere. This summer jet has been less explored in a broad planetary context, both due to the dominance of the winter jet and since the balances controlling it are more complex, and understanding them requires exploring a broader parameter regime. To better understand the jet characteristics on terrestrial planets and the transition between winter- and summer-dominated jet regimes, we explore the jet’s dependence on rotation rate and obliquity. Across a significant portion of the parameter space, the dominant jet is in the winter hemisphere, and the summer jet is weaker and restricted to the boundary layer. However, we show that for slow rotation rates and high obliquities, the strongest jet is in the summer rather than the winter hemisphere. Analysis of the summer jet’s momentum balance reveals that the balance is not simply cyclostrophic and that both boundary layer drag and vertical advection are essential. At high obliquities and slow rotation rates, the cross-equatorial winter cell is wide and strong. The returning poleward flow in the summer hemisphere is balanced by low-level westerlies through an Ekman balance and momentum is advected upward close to the ascending branch, resulting in a midtroposphere summer jet.

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Joaquín E. Blanco
,
Rodrigo Caballero
,
George Datseris
,
Bjorn Stevens
,
Sandrine Bony
,
Or Hadas
, and
Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The Northern and Southern Hemispheres reflect on average almost equal amounts of sunlight due to compensating hemispheric asymmetries in clear-sky and cloud albedo. Recent work indicates that the cloud albedo asymmetry is largely due to clouds in extratropical oceanic regions. Here, we investigate the proximate causes of this extratropical cloud albedo asymmetry using a cloud-controlling factor (CCF) approach. We develop a simple index that measures the skill of CCFs, either individually or in combination, in predicting the asymmetry. The index captures the contribution to the asymmetry due to interhemispheric differences in the probability distribution function of daily CCF values. Cloud albedo is quantified using daily MODIS satellite retrievals, and is related to range of CCFs derived from the ERA5 product. We find that sea surface temperature is the CCF that individually explains the largest fraction of the asymmetry, followed by surface wind. The asymmetry is predominantly due to low clouds, and our results are consistent with prior local-scale modeling work showing that marine boundary layer clouds become thicker and more extensive as surface wind increases and surface temperature cools. The asymmetry is consistent with large-scale control of storm-track intensity and surface winds by meridional temperature gradients: persistently cold and windy conditions in the Southern Hemisphere keep cloud albedo high year-round. Our results have important implications for global-scale cloud feedbacks and contribute to efforts to develop a theory for planetary albedo and its symmetry.

Open access
Ju-Mee Ryoo
,
Yohai Kaspi
,
Darryn W. Waugh
,
George N. Kiladis
,
Duane E. Waliser
,
Eric J. Fetzer
, and
Jinwon Kim

Abstract

This study demonstrates that water vapor transport and precipitation are largely modulated by the intensity of the subtropical jet, transient eddies, and the location of wave breaking events during the different phases of ENSO. Clear differences are found in the potential vorticity (PV), meteorological fields, and trajectory pathways between the two different phases. Rossby wave breaking events have cyclonic and anticyclonic regimes, with associated differences in the frequency of occurrence and the dynamic response. During La Niña, there is a relatively weak subtropical jet allowing PV to intrude into lower latitudes over the western United States. This induces a large amount of moisture transport inland ahead of the PV intrusions, as well as northward transport to the west of a surface anticyclone. During El Niño, the subtropical jet is relatively strong and is associated with an enhanced cyclonic wave breaking. This is accompanied by a time-mean surface cyclone, which brings zonal moisture transport to the western United States. In both (El Niño and La Niña) phases, there is a high correlation (>0.3–0.7) between upper-level PV at 250 hPa and precipitation over the west coast of the United States with a time lag of 0–1 days. Vertically integrated water vapor fluxes during El Niño are up to 70 kg m−1 s−1 larger than those during La Niña along the west coast of the United States. The zonal and meridional moist static energy flux resembles wave vapor transport patterns, suggesting that they are closely controlled by the large-scale flows and location of wave breaking events during the different phase of ENSO.

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