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  • Author or Editor: Rémi Tailleux x
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Lenka Novak
and
Rémi Tailleux

Abstract

The possibility of constructing Lorenz’s concept of available potential energy (APE) from a local principle has been known for some time, but it has received very little attention so far. Yet the local APE density framework offers the advantage of providing a positive-definite local form of potential energy, which, like kinetic energy, can be transported, converted, and created or dissipated locally. In contrast to Lorenz’s definition, which relies on the exact from of potential energy, the local APE density theory uses the particular form of potential energy appropriate to the approximations considered. In this paper, this idea is illustrated for the dry hydrostatic primitive equations, whose relevant form of potential energy is the specific enthalpy. The local APE density is nonquadratic in general but can nevertheless be partitioned exactly into mean and eddy components regardless of the Reynolds averaging operator used. This paper introduces a new form of the local APE density that is easily computable from atmospheric datasets. The advantages of using the local APE density over the classical Lorenz APE are highlighted. The paper also presents the first calculation of the three-dimensional local APE density in observation-based atmospheric data. Finally, it illustrates how the eddy and mean components of the local APE density can be used to study regional and temporal variability in the large-scale circulation. It is revealed that advection from high latitudes is necessary to supply APE into the storm-track regions, and that Greenland and the Ross Sea, which have suffered from rapid land ice and sea ice loss in recent decades, are particularly susceptible to APE variability.

Open access
Lenka Novak
,
Maarten H. P. Ambaum
, and
Rémi Tailleux

Abstract

The North Atlantic eddy-driven jet exhibits latitudinal variability with evidence of three preferred latitudinal locations: south, middle, and north. Here the authors examine the drivers of this variability and the variability of the associated storm track. The authors investigate the changes in the storm-track characteristics for the three jet locations and propose a mechanism by which enhanced storm-track activity, as measured by upstream heat flux, is responsible for cyclical downstream latitudinal shifts in the jet. This mechanism is based on a nonlinear oscillator relationship between the enhanced meridional temperature gradient (and thus baroclinicity) and the meridional high-frequency (periods of shorter than 10 days) eddy heat flux. Such oscillations in baroclinicity and heat flux induce variability in eddy anisotropy, which is associated with the changes in the dominant type of wave breaking and a different latitudinal deflection of the jet. The authors’ results suggest that high heat flux is conducive to a northward deflection of the jet, whereas low heat flux is conducive to a more zonal jet. This jet-deflecting effect was found to operate most prominently downstream of the storm-track maximum, while the storm track and the jet remain anchored at a fixed latitudinal location at the beginning of the storm track. These cyclical changes in storm-track characteristics can be viewed as different stages of the storm track’s spatiotemporal life cycle.

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Bethan L. Harris
,
Rémi Tailleux
,
Christopher E. Holloway
, and
Pier Luigi Vidale

Abstract

The main energy source for the intensification of a tropical cyclone (TC) is widely accepted to be the transfer of energy from the ocean to the atmosphere via surface fluxes. The pathway through which these surface fluxes lead to an increase in the kinetic energy of the cyclone has typically been interpreted either in terms of total potential energy or dry available potential energy (APE), or through the entropy-based heat engine viewpoint. Here, we use the local theory of APE to construct a budget of moist APE for an idealized axisymmetric simulation of a tropical cyclone. This is the first full budget of local moist APE budget for an atmospheric model. In the local moist APE framework, latent surface heat fluxes are the dominant generator of moist APE, which is then converted into kinetic energy via buoyancy fluxes. In the core region of the TC, the inward transport of APE by the secondary circulation is more important than its local production. The APE viewpoint describes spatially and temporally varying efficiencies; these may be useful in understanding how changes in efficiency influence TC development, and have a maximum that can be linked to the Carnot efficiency featuring in potential intensity theory.

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