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  • Author or Editor: Chihiro Kodama x
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Chihiro Kodama and Toshiki Iwasaki


The influence of the sea surface temperature (SST) rise on extratropical baroclinic instability wave activity is investigated using an aquaplanet general circulation model (GCM). Two types of runs were performed: the High+3 run, in which the SST is increased by 3 K only at high latitudes, and the All+3 run, in which the SST is increased uniformly by 3 K all over the globe. These SST rises were intended to reproduce essential changes of the surface air temperature due to global warming. Wave activity changes are analyzed and discussed from the viewpoint of the energetics.

In the High+3 run, midlatitude meridional temperature gradient is decreased in the lower troposphere and the wave energy is suppressed in the extratropics. In the All+3 run, although the large tropical latent heat release greatly enhances the midlatitude meridional temperature gradient in the upper troposphere, global mean wave energy does not change significantly. These results suggest that the low-level baroclinicity is much more important for baroclinic instability wave activity than upper-level baroclinicity. A poleward shift of wave energy, seen in global warming simulations, is evident in the All+3 run. Wave energy generation analysis suggests that the poleward shift of wave activity may be caused by the enhanced and poleward-shifted baroclinicity in the higher latitudes and the increased static stability in the lower latitudes. Poleward expansion of the high-baroclinicity region is still an open question.

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Toshiki Iwasaki and Chihiro Kodama


The growth rate of baroclinic instability waves is generalized in terms of wave–mean flow interactions, with an emphasis on the influence of the vertical profile of baroclinicity. The wave energy is converted from the zonal mean kinetic energy and the growth rate is proportional to the mean zonal flow difference between the Eliassen–Palm (E-P) flux convergence and divergence areas. Mass-weighted isentropic zonal means facilitate the expression of the lower boundary conditions for the mass streamfunctions and E-P flux.

For Eady waves, intersections of isentropes with lower/upper boundaries induce the E-P flux divergence/convergence. The growth rate is proportional to the mean zonal flow difference between the two boundaries, indicating that baroclinicity at each level contributes evenly to the instability. The reduced zonal mean kinetic energy is compensated by a conversion from the zonal mean available potential energy.

Aquaplanet experiments are carried out to investigate the actual characteristics of baroclinic instability waves. The wave activity is shown to be sensitive to the upper-tropospheric baroclinicity, though it may be most sensitive to baroclinicity near 800 hPa, which is the maximal level of the E-P flux. The local wave energy generation rate suggests that the increased upper-tropospheric zonal flow directly enhances the upper-tropospheric wave energy at the midlatitudes. Note that the actual baroclinic instability waves accompany a considerable amount of the equatorward E-P flux, which causes extinction of wave energy in the subtropical upper troposphere.

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