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Orli Lachmy and Nili Harnik

Abstract

A quasi-linear two-layer quasigeostrophic β-plane model of the interaction between a baroclinic jet and a single zonal wavenumber perturbation is used to study the mechanics leading to a wave amplitude bifurcation—in particular, the role of the critical surfaces in the upper-tropospheric jet flanks. The jet is forced by Newtonian heating toward a radiative equilibrium state, and Ekman damping is applied at the surface. When the typical horizontal scale is approximately the Rossby radius of deformation, the waves equilibrate at a finite amplitude that is comparable to the mean flow. This state is obtained as a result of a wave-induced temporary destabilization of the mean flow, during which the waves grow to their finite-equilibrium amplitude. When the typical horizontal scale is wider, the model also supports a state in which the waves equilibrate at negligible amplitudes. The transition from small to finite-amplitude waves, which occurs at weak instabilities, is abrupt as the parameters of the system are gradually varied, and in a certain range of parameter values both equilibrated states are supported.

The simple two-layer quasi-linear setting of the model allows a detailed examination of the temporary destabilization process inherent in the large-amplitude equilibration. As the waves grow they reduce the baroclinic growth by reducing the vertical shear of the mean flow, and reduce the barotropic decay by reducing the mean potential vorticity gradient at the inner sides of the upper-layer critical levels. Temporary destabilization occurs when the reduction in barotropic decay is larger than the reduction in baroclinic growth, leading to a larger total growth rate. Ekman friction and radiative damping are found to play a major role in sustaining the vertical shear of the mean flow and enabling the baroclinic growth to continue. By controlling the mean flow potential vorticity gradient near the critical level, the model evolution can be changed from one type of equilibration to the other.

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Orli Lachmy and Nili Harnik

Abstract

An abrupt transition from a merged jet regime to a subtropical jet regime is analyzed using a two-layer modified quasigeostrophic (QG) spherical model. Unlike the common version of QG models, this model includes advection of the zonal mean momentum by the ageostrophic mean meridional circulation, allowing for a relatively realistic momentum balance in the tropics and subtropics. The merged jet is a single jet inside the Ferrel cell created by a merging of the subtropical and eddy-driven jets, and the subtropical jet is a mainly thermally driven jet at the Hadley cell edge. The maintenance of each type of jet depends on the dominant baroclinic modes. In the merged jet regime, the spectrum is dominated by intermediate-scale (wavenumbers 4–6) fast waves at the midlatitudes that grow close to the jet maximum. In the subtropical jet regime, the spectrum is dominated by long (wavenumbers 1–3) slow westward-propagating waves at high latitudes and somewhat weaker intermediate-scale slow waves at the midlatitudes. In the subtropical jet regime, waves equilibrate at weaker amplitudes than in the merged jet regime. A mechanism is found that explains why baroclinic instability is weaker in the subtropical jet regime, although the vertical shear of the mean flow is stronger, which has to do with the lower-level potential vorticity (PV) structure. The relevance of these results to the real atmosphere seams to hold in local zonal sections but not for the zonal mean.

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Orli Lachmy and Tiffany Shaw

Abstract

Coupled climate models project that extratropical storm tracks and eddy-driven jets generally shift poleward in response to increased CO2 concentration. Here the connection between the storm-track and jet responses to climate change is examined using the Eliassen–Palm (EP) relation. The EP relation states that the eddy potential energy flux is equal to the eddy momentum flux times the Doppler-shifted phase speed. The EP relation can be used to connect the storm-track and eddy-driven jet responses to climate change assuming 1) the storm-track and eddy potential energy flux responses are consistent and 2) the response of the Doppler-shifted phase speed is negligible. We examine the extent to which the EP relation connects the eddy-driven jet (eddy momentum flux convergence) response to climate change with the storm-track (eddy potential energy flux) response in two idealized aquaplanet model experiments. The two experiments, which differ in their radiation schemes, both show a poleward shift of the storm track in response to climate change. However, the eddy-driven jet shifts poleward using the sophisticated radiation scheme but equatorward using the gray radiation scheme. The EP relation gives a good approximation of the momentum flux response and the eddy-driven jet shift, given the eddy potential energy flux response, because the Doppler-shifted phase speed response is negligible. According to the EP relation, the opposite shift of the eddy-driven jet for the different radiation schemes is associated with dividing the eddy potential energy flux response by the climatological Doppler-shifted phase speed, which is dominated by the zonal-mean zonal wind.

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Orli Lachmy and Nili Harnik

Abstract

The wave spectrum and zonal-mean-flow maintenance in different flow regimes of the jet stream are studied using a two-layer modified quasigeostrophic (QG) model. As the wave energy is increased by varying the model parameters, the flow transitions from a subtropical jet regime to a merged jet regime and then to an eddy-driven jet regime. The subtropical jet is maintained at the Hadley cell edge by zonal-mean advection of momentum, while eddy heat flux and eddy momentum flux convergence (EMFC) are weak and concentrated far poleward. The merged jet is narrow and persistent and is maintained by EMFC from a narrow wave spectrum, dominated by zonal wavenumber 5. The eddy-driven jet is wide and fluctuating and is maintained by EMFC from a wide wave spectrum. The wave–mean flow feedback mechanisms that maintain each regime are explained qualitatively.

The regime transitions are related to transitions in the wave spectrum. An analysis of the wave energy spectrum budget and a comparison with a quasi-linear version of the model show that the balance maintaining the spectrum in the merged and subtropical jet regimes is mainly a quasi-linear balance, whereas in the eddy-driven jet regime nonlinear inverse energy cascade takes place. The amplitude and wavenumber of the dominant wave mode in the merged and subtropical jet regimes are determined by the constraint that this mode would produce the wave fluxes necessary for maintaining a mean flow that is close to neutrality. In contrast, the equilibrated mean flow in the eddy-driven jet regime is weakly unstable.

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