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Junyi Chai and Geoffrey K. Vallis

Abstract

This paper discusses the sensitivity of the horizontal and vertical scales of extratropical eddies when criticality is varied in a dry, primitive-equation, general circulation model. Criticality is a measure of extratropical isentropic slope and when defined appropriately its value is often close to 1 for Earth’s climate. The model is forced by a Newtonian relaxation of temperature to a prescribed temperature profile, and criticality is increased by increasing the thermal relaxation rate on the mean flow. When criticality varies near 1, it is shown that there exists a weakly nonlinear regime in which the eddy scale increases with criticality without involving an inverse cascade, while at the same time the Rossby radius may in fact decrease. The quasigeostrophic instability of the Charney problem is revisited. It is demonstrated that both the horizontal and vertical scales of the most unstable wave depend on criticality, and simple estimates for the two scales are obtained. The authors reconcile the opposite trends of the eddy scale and Rossby radius and obtain an estimate for the eddy scale in terms of the Rossby radius and criticality that is broadly consistent with simulations.

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Junyi Chai, Malte Jansen, and Geoffrey K. Vallis

Abstract

This paper discusses whether and how a baroclinic atmosphere can equilibrate with very small bottom friction in a dry primitive equation general circulation model. The model is forced by a Newtonian relaxation of temperature to a prescribed temperature profile, and it is damped by a linear friction near the lower boundary. When friction is decreased by four orders of magnitude, kinetic energy dissipation by friction gradually becomes negligible, while “energy recycling” becomes dominant. In this limit kinetic energy is converted back into potential energy at the largest scales, thus closing the energy cycle without significant frictional dissipation. The momentum fluxes are of opposite sign in the upper and lower atmosphere: in the upper atmosphere, eddies converge momentum into the westerly jets; however, in the lower atmosphere, the eddies diverge momentum out of the westerly jets. The secondary circulation driven by the meridional eddy momentum fluxes thus acts to increase the baroclinicity of the westerly jet. This regime may be relevant for the Jovian atmosphere, where the frictional time scale may be much larger than the radiative damping time scale.

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