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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Rigorous upper bounds are derived on the saturation amplitude of baroclinic instability in the two-layer model. The bounds apply to the eddy energy and are obtained by appealing to a finite amplitude conservation law for the disturbance pseudoenergy. These bounds are to be distinguished from those derived in Part I of this study, which employed a pseudomomentum conservation law and provided bounds on the eddy potential enstrophy. The bounds apply to conservative (inviscid, unforced) flow, as well as to forced-dissipative flow when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity.

Bounds on the eddy energy are worked out for a general class of unstable westerly jets. In the special case of the Phillips model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial eddy amplitude, the bound states that the eddy energy cannot exceed εβ2/6F where ε = (UU crit)/U crit is the relative supercriticality. This bound captures the essential dynamical scalings (i.e., the dependence on ε, β, and F) of the saturation amplitudes predicted by weakly nonlinear theory, as well as exhibiting remarkable quantitative agreement with those predictions, and is also consistent with heuristic baroclinic adjustment estimates.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Rigorous upper bounds are derived that limit the finite-amplitude growth of arbitrary nonzonal disturbances to an unstable baroclinic zonal flow in a continuously stratified, quasi-geostrophic, semi-infinite fluid. Bounds are obtained bath on the depth-integrated eddy potential enstrophy and on the eddy available potential energy (APE) at the ground. The method used to derive the bounds is essentially analogous to that used in Part I of this study for the two-layer model: it relies on the existence of a nonlinear Liapunov (normed) stability theorem, which is a finite-amplitude generalization of the Charney-Stern theorem. As in Part I, the bounds are valid both for conservative (unforced, inviscid) flow, as well as for forced-dissipative flow when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity in the interior, and to the potential temperature at the ground.

The character of the results depends on the dimensionless external parameter γ = f 0 2ξ/β0 N 2 H, where ξ is the maximum vertical shear of the zonal wind, H is the density scale height, and the other symbols have their usual meaning. When γ ≫ 1, corresponding to “deep” unstable modes (vertical scale ≈H), the bound on the eddy potential enstrophy is just the total potential enstrophy in the system; but when γ≪1, corresponding to ‘shallow’ unstable modes (vertical scale ≈γH), the eddy potential enstrophy can be bounded well below the total amount available in the system. In neither case can the bound on the eddy APE prevent a complete neutralization of the surface temperature gradient which is in accord with numerical experience.

For the special case of the Charney model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial eddy disturbance amplitude, the bound states that the dimensionless eddy potential enstrophy cannot exceed (γ + 1)2/24&gamma2 h when γ ≥ 1, or 1/6;&gammah when γ ≤ 1; here h = HN/f 0 L is the dimensionless scale height and L is the width of the channel. These bounds are very similar to (though of course generally larger than) ad hoc estimates based on baroclinic-adjustment arguments.

The possibility of using these kinds of bounds for eddy-amplitude closure in a transient-eddy parameterization scheme is also discussed.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

A rigorous bound is derived which limits the finite-amplitude growth of arbitrary nonzonal disturbances to an unstable baroclinic zonal flow within the context of the two-layer model. The bound is valid for conservative (unforced) flow, as well as for forced-dissipative flow that when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity. The method used to derive the bound relies on the existence of a nonlinear Liapunov (normed) stability theorem for subcritical flows, which is a finite-amplitude generalization of the Charney-Stern theorem.

For the special case of the Philips model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial nonzonal disturbance amplitude, an improved form of the bound is possible which states that the potential enstrophy of the nonzonal flow cannot exceed εβ2, where ε = (UU crit)/U crit is the (relative) supereriticality. This upper bound turns out to be extremely similar to the maximum predicted by the weakly nonlinear theory. For unforced flow with ε < 1, the bound demonstrates that the nonzonal flow cannot contain all of the potential enstrophy in the system; hence in this range of initial supercriticality the total flow must remain, in a certain sense, “close” to a zonal state.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

The question of linear sheared-disturbance evolution in constant-shear parallel flow is here reexamined with regard to the temporary-amplification phenomenon noted first by Orr in 1907. The results apply directly to Rossby waves on a beta-plane, and are also relevant to the Eady model of baroclinic instability. It is shown that an isotropic initial distribution of standing waves maintains a constant energy level throughout the shearing process, the amplification of some waves being precisely balanced by the decay of the others. An expression is obtained for the energy of a distribution of disturbances whose wavevectors lie within a given angular wedge and an upper bound derived. It is concluded that the case for ubiquitous amplification made in recent studies may have been somewhat overstated: while carefully-chosen individual Fourier components can amplify considerably before they decay. a general distribution will tend to exhibit little or no amplification.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Nonlinear spectral transfers of kinetic energy and enstrophy, and stationary-transient interaction, are studied using global FGGE data for January 1979. It is found that the spectral transfers arise primarily from a combination, in roughly equal measure, of pure transient and mixed stationary-transient interactions. The pure transient interactions are associated with a transient eddy field which is approximately locally homogeneous and isotropic, and they appear to be consistently understood within the context of two-dimensional homogeneous turbulence. Theory based on spatial wale separation concepts suggests that the mixed interactions may be understood physically, to a first approximation, as a process of shear-induced spectral transfer of transient enstrophy along lines of constant zonal wavenumber. This essentially conservative enstrophy transfer generally involves highly nonlocal stationary-transient energy conversions.

The observational analysis demonstrates that the shear-induced transient enstrophy transfer is mainly associated with intermediate-scale (zonal wavenumber m > 3) transients and is primarily to smaller (meridional) scales, so that the transient flow acts as a source of stationary energy. In quantitative terms, this transient-eddy rectification corresponds to a forcing timescale in the stationary energy budget which is of the same order of magnitude as most estimates of the damping timescale in simple stationary-wave models (5 to 15 days). Moreover, the nonlinear interactions involved are highly nonlocal and cover a wide range of transient scales of motion.

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Sorin Codoban and Theodore G. Shepherd

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A theory of available potential energy (APE) for symmetric circulations, which includes momentum constraints, is presented. The theory is a generalization of the classical theory of APE, which includes only thermal constraints on the circulation. Physically, centrifugal potential energy is included along with gravitational potential energy. The generalization relies on the Hamiltonian structure of the conservative dynamics, although (as with classical APE) it still defines the energetics in a nonconservative framework. It follows that the theory is exact at finite amplitude, has a local form, and can be applied to a variety of fluid models. It is applied here to the f-plane Boussinesq equations. It is shown that, by including momentum constraints, the APE of a symmetrically stable flow is zero, while the energetics of a mechanically driven symmetric circulation properly reflect its causality.

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Diane Pendlebury and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

In the stratosphere, chemical tracers are drawn systematically from the equator to the pole. This observed Brewer–Dobson circulation is driven by wave drag, which in the stratosphere arises mainly from the breaking and dissipation of planetary-scale Rossby waves. While the overall sense of the circulation follows from fundamental physical principles, a quantitative theoretical understanding of the connection between wave drag and Lagrangian transport is limited to linear, small-amplitude waves. However, planetary waves in the stratosphere generally grow to a large amplitude and break in a strongly nonlinear fashion. This paper addresses the connection between stratospheric wave drag and Lagrangian transport in the presence of strong nonlinearity, using a mechanistic three-dimensional primitive equations model together with offline particle advection. Attention is deliberately focused on a weak forcing regime, such that sudden warmings do not occur and a quasi-steady state is reached, in order to examine this question in the cleanest possible context.

Wave drag is directly linked to the transformed Eulerian mean (TEM) circulation, which is often used as a surrogate for mean Lagrangian motion. The results show that the correspondence between the TEM and mean Lagrangian velocities is quantitatively excellent in regions of linear, nonbreaking waves (i.e., outside the surf zone), where streamlines are not closed. Within the surf zone, where streamlines are closed and meridional particle displacements are large, the agreement between the vertical components of the two velocity fields is still remarkably good, especially wherever particle paths are coherent so that diabatic dispersion is minimized. However, in this region the meridional mean Lagrangian velocity bears little relation to the meridional TEM velocity, and reflects more the kinematics of mixing within and across the edges of the surf zone. The results from the mechanistic model are compared with those from the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model to test the robustness of the conclusions.

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Giuseppe Zappa and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

There is increasing interest in understanding the regional impacts of different global warming targets. However, several regional climate impacts depend on the atmospheric circulation, whose response to climate change remains substantially uncertain and not interpretable in a probabilistic sense in multimodel ensemble projections. To account for these uncertainties, a novel approach where regional climate change is analyzed as a function of carbon emissions conditional on plausible storylines of atmospheric circulation change is here presented and applied to the CMIP5 models’ future projections. The different storylines are determined based on the response in three remote drivers of regional circulation: the tropical and polar amplification of global warming and changes in stratospheric vortex strength. As an illustration of this approach, it is shown that the severity of the projected wintertime Mediterranean precipitation decline and central European windiness increase strongly depends on the storyline of circulation change. For a given magnitude of global warming, the highest impact storyline for these aspects of European climate is found for a high tropical amplification and a strengthening of the vortex. The difference in the precipitation and wind responses between the storylines is substantial and equivalent to the contribution from several degrees of global warming. Improving the understanding of the remote driver responses is thus needed to better bound the projected regional impacts in the European sector. The value of these storylines to represent the uncertainty in regional climate projections and to inform the selection of CMIP5 models in regional climate impact studies is discussed.

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Charles McLandress and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Recent studies using comprehensive middle atmosphere models predict a strengthening of the Brewer–Dobson circulation in response to climate change. To gain confidence in the realism of this result it is important to quantify and understand the contributions from the different components of stratospheric wave drag that cause this increase. Such an analysis is performed here using three 150-yr transient simulations from the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM), a Chemistry–Climate Model that simulates climate change and ozone depletion and recovery. Resolved wave drag and parameterized orographic gravity wave drag account for 60% and 40%, respectively, of the long-term trend in annual mean net upward mass flux at 70 hPa, with planetary waves accounting for 60% of the resolved wave drag trend. Synoptic wave drag has the strongest impact in northern winter, where it accounts for nearly as much of the upward mass flux trend as planetary wave drag. Owing to differences in the latitudinal structure of the wave drag changes, the relative contribution of resolved and parameterized wave drag to the tropical upward mass flux trend over any particular latitude range is highly sensitive to the range of latitudes considered. An examination of the spatial structure of the climate change response reveals no straightforward connection between the low-latitude and high-latitude changes: while the model results show an increase in Arctic downwelling in winter, they also show a decrease in Antarctic downwelling in spring. Both changes are attributed to changes in the flux of stationary planetary wave activity into the stratosphere.

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Kirill Semeniuk and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

In the tropical middle atmosphere the climatological radiative equilibrium temperature is inconsistent with gradient-wind balance and the available angular momentum, especially during solstice seasons. Adjustment toward a balanced state results in a type of Hadley circulation that lies outside the “downward control” view of zonally averaged dynamics. This middle-atmosphere Hadley circulation is reexamined here using a zonally symmetric balance model driven through an annual cycle. It is found that the inclusion of a realistic radiation scheme leads to a concentration of the circulation near the stratopause and to its closing off in the mesosphere, with no need for relaxational damping or a rigid lid. The evolving zonal flow is inertially unstable, leading to a rapid process of inertial adjustment, which becomes significant in the mesosphere. This short-circuits the slower process of angular momentum homogenization by the Hadley circulation itself, thereby weakening the latter.

The effect of the meridional circulation associated with extratropical wave drag on the Hadley circulation is considered. It is shown that the two circulations are independent for linear (quasigeostrophic) zonal-mean dynamics, and interact primarily through the advection of temperature and angular momentum. There appears to be no significant coupling in the deep Tropics via temperature advection since the wave-driven circulation is unable to alter meridional temperature gradients in this region. However, the wave-driven circulation can affect the Hadley circulation by advecting angular momentum out of the Tropics.

The validity of the zonally symmetric balance model with parameterized inertial adjustment is tested by comparison with a three-dimensional primitive equations model. Fields from a middle-atmosphere GCM are also examined for evidence of these processes. While many aspects of the GCM circulation are indicative of the middle-atmosphere Hadley circulation, particularly in the upper stratosphere, it appears that the circulation is obscured in the mesosphere and lower stratosphere by other processes.

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