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Ming-Ying Wei and Todd K. Schaack


Based on surface pressure and terrain height analyses from the National Meteorological Center, mountain torques are calculated for January, April, July and October 1979 during the First GARP Global Experiment. The zonally integrated mountain torques are generally in good agreement with previous studies. For all four months, positive torque exists in the tropical latitudes as well as in the polar and subtropical latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere; negative torque exists in northern middle latitudes and most of the Southern Hemisphere. An exception occurs in July when the mountain torque is negative between 5 and 25°N and positive in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics. Over latitudes where large terrain variation exists such as near 20°S due to the Andes, the estimate obtained in this study is larger in magnitude than that from previous work. The difference is due to the differences in both grid resolution and the particular atmospheric data and topography selected.

The meridional profiles of individual continental mountain torques are examined to illustrate geographical contributions to the net zonal torque. The positive mountain torque in northern high latitudes is due mainly to North America and Greenland. Both North America and Eurasia contribute to the sink of angular momentum in northern middle latitudes and the source in the subtropical latitudes. The negative torque between 5 and 25°N in July is due to the influence of the Indian monsoon trough on Arabia and Africa. The negative mountain torque over South America dominates the positive torque over Africa and Australia in the Southern Hemisphere in January and October.

Although the monthly averaged zonally integrated mountain torque assumes lesser importance when compared to the frictional torque, regional mountain torque at the synoptic time scale is quite large and can have considerable influence on the large scale circulation. Hemispheric torques are in qualitative agreement with previous work. Due to the partial cancellation of hemispheric torques and the variances in mountain torque which can result from different computing methods and grid distribution, no conclusive statement is drawn in regard to the global mountain torques during FGGE.

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