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  • Author or Editor: R. Alan Plumb x
  • Jets and Annular Structures in Geophysical Fluids (Jets) x
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Michael J. Ring and R. Alan Plumb


Previous studies using simplified general circulation models have shown that “annular modes” arise as the dominant mode of variability. A simple GCM is used here to explore to what extent these modes are also the preferred response of the system to generic forcing.

A number of trials are conducted under which the model is subjected to an artificial, zonally symmetric angular momentum forcing, and the climatologies of these trials are compared to that of the control. The forcing location is varied among the several trials. It is found that the changes in the model’s climatology are generally annular mode–like, as long as the imposed forcing projects strongly upon the annular modes of the unforced model.

The role of changes to the eddy–zonal flow feedback versus the action of direct forcing is also considered through the use of a zonally symmetric version of the model. It is found that the direct responses to forcing are insufficient to capture either the strength or the structure of the annular mode responses. Instead, the changes in eddy fluxes are needed to produce the correct responses.

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Cegeon J. Chan, R. Alan Plumb, and Ivana Cerovecki


The authors investigate the dynamics of zonal jets in a semihemisphere zonally reentrant ocean model. The forcings imposed in the model are an idealized atmospheric wind stress and relaxation to a latitudinal temperature profile held constant in time. While there are striking similarities to the observed atmospheric annular modes, where the leading mode of variability is associated with the primary zonal jet’s meridional undulation, secondary (weaker) jets emerge and systematically migrate equatorward.

The model output suggests the following mechanism for the equatorward migration: while the eddy momentum fluxes sustain the jets, the eddy heat fluxes have a poleward bias causing an anomalous residual circulation with poleward (equatorward) flow on the poleward (equatorward) flanks. By conservation of mass, there must be a rising residual flow at the jet. From the thermodynamics equation, the greatest cooling occurs at the jet core, thus creating a tendency to reduce the baroclinicity on the poleward flank, while enhancing it on the equatorward flank. Consequently, the baroclinic zone shifts, perpetuating the jet migration.

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