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Yohai Kaspi and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

The Northern Hemisphere storm tracks have maximum intensity over the Pacific and Atlantic basins; their intensity is reduced over the continents downstream. Here, simulations with an idealized aquaplanet general circulation model are used to demonstrate that even without continents, storm tracks have a self-determined longitudinal length scale. Their length is controlled primarily by the planetary rotation rate and is similar to that of Earth’s storm tracks for Earth’s rotation rate. Downstream, storm tracks self-destruct: the downstream eddy kinetic energy is lower than it would be without the zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks. Likely involved in the downstream self-destruction of storm tracks are the energy fluxes associated with them. The zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks enhance the energy transport through the generation of stationary eddies, and this leads to a reduced baroclinicity that persists far downstream of the eddy kinetic energy maxima.

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Janni Yuval and Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

Motivated by the expectation that under global warming upper-level meridional temperature gradients will increase while lower-level temperature gradients will decrease, the relations between the vertical structure of baroclinicity and eddy fields are investigated. The sensitivity of eddies and the relation between the mean available potential energy and eddy quantities are studied for cases where the vertical structure of the lapse rate and meridional temperature gradient are modified. To investigate this systematically, an idealized general circulation model with a Newtonian cooling scheme that has a very short relaxation time for the mean state and a long relaxation time for eddies is used. This scheme allows for any chosen zonally mean state to be obtained with good precision. The results indicate that for similar change in the lapse rate or meridional temperature gradient, eddies are more sensitive to changes in baroclinicity where it is already large. Furthermore, when the vertical structure of the lapse rate or the meridional temperature gradient is modified, there is no universal linear relation between the mean available potential energy and eddy quantities.

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Janni Yuval and Yohai Kaspi

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The atmosphere exhibits two distinct types of jets: the thermally driven subtropical jet and the more poleward eddy-driven jet. Depending on location and season, these jets are often merged or separated, and their position, structure, and intensity strongly influence the eddy fields. Here, the authors study the sensitivity of eddies to changes in the jets’ amplitudes and positions in an idealized general circulation model. A modified Newtonian relaxation scheme that has a very short relaxation time for the mean state and a long relaxation time for eddies is used. This scheme makes it possible to obtain any zonally symmetric temperature distribution and is used to systematically modify the jets’ amplitudes and locations. It is found that eddies are more sensitive to changes in the amplitude of the eddy-driven jet than to changes in the amplitude of the subtropical jet. Furthermore, when the eddy-driven jet is shifted poleward, eddies tend to intensify. These results are tested for robustness in two different reference simulations: one resembling a situation where the subtropical and eddy-driven jets are nearly merged and one when they are separated.

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Talia Tamarin and Yohai Kaspi

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The Atlantic and Pacific storm tracks in the Northern Hemisphere are characterized by a downstream poleward deflection, which has important consequences for the distribution of heat, wind, and precipitation in the midlatitudes. In this study, the spatial structure of the storm tracks is examined by tracking transient cyclones in an idealized GCM with a localized ocean heat flux. The localized atmospheric response is decomposed in terms of a time- and zonal-mean background flow, a stationary wave, and a transient eddy field. The Lagrangian tracks are used to construct cyclone composites and perform a spatially varying PV budget. Three distinct mechanisms that contribute to the poleward tilt emerge: transient nonlinear advection, latent heat release, and stationary advection. The downstream evolution of the PV composites shows the different role played by the stationary wave in each region. In the region where the tilt is maximized, all three mechanisms contribute to the poleward propagation of the low-level PV anomaly associated with the cyclone. Upstream of that region, the stationary wave is opposing the former two, and the poleward tendency is therefore reduced. Finally, through repeated experiments with enhanced strength of the heating source, it is shown that the poleward deflection of the storms enhances when the amplitude of the stationary wave increases.

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Rei Chemke and Yohai Kaspi

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The latitudinal width of atmospheric eddy-driven jets and scales of macroturbulence are examined latitude by latitude over a wide range of rotation rates using a high-resolution idealized GCM. It is found that for each latitude, through all rotation rates, the jet spacing scales with the Rhines scale. These simulations show the presence of a “supercriticality latitude” within the baroclinic zone, where poleward (equatorward) of this latitude, the Rhines scale is larger (smaller) than the Rossby deformation radius. Poleward of this latitude, a classic geostrophic turbulence picture appears with a − spectral slope of inverse cascade from the deformation radius up to the Rhines scale. A shallower slope than the −3 slope of enstrophy cascade is found from the deformation radius down to the viscosity scale as a result of the broad input of baroclinic eddy kinetic energy. At these latitudes, eddy–eddy interactions transfer barotropic eddy kinetic energy from the input scales of baroclinic eddy kinetic energy up to the jet scale and down to smaller scales. For the Earth case, this latitude is outside the baroclinic zone and therefore an inverse cascade does not appear. Equatorward of the supercriticality latitude, the − slope of inverse cascade vanishes, eddy–mean flow interactions play an important role in the balance, and the spectrum follows a −3 slope from the Rhines scale down to smaller scales, similar to what is observed on Earth. Moreover, the length scale of the energy-containing zonal wavenumber is equal to (larger than) the jet scale poleward (equatorward) of the supercriticality latitude.

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Talia Tamarin and Yohai Kaspi

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The poleward propagation of midlatitude storms is studied using a potential vorticity (PV) tendency analysis of cyclone-tracking composites, in an idealized zonally symmetric moist GCM. A detailed PV budget reveals the important role of the upper-level PV and diabatic heating associated with latent heat release. During the growth stage, the classic picture of baroclinic instability emerges, with an upper-level PV to the west of a low-level PV associated with the cyclone. This configuration not only promotes intensification, but also a poleward tendency that results from the nonlinear advection of the low-level anomaly by the upper-level PV. The separate contributions of the upper- and lower-level PV as well as the surface temperature anomaly are analyzed using a piecewise PV inversion, which shows the importance of the upper-level PV anomaly in advecting the cyclone poleward. The PV analysis also emphasizes the crucial role played by latent heat release in the poleward motion of the cyclone. The latent heat release tends to maximize on the northeastern side of cyclones, where the warm and moist air ascends. A positive PV tendency results at lower levels, propagating the anomaly eastward and poleward. It is also shown here that stronger cyclones have stronger latent heat release and poleward advection, hence, larger poleward propagation. Time development of the cyclone composites shows that the poleward propagation increases during the growth stage of the cyclone, as both processes intensify. However, during the decay stage, the vertical alignment of the upper and lower PV anomalies implies that these processes no longer contribute to a poleward tendency.

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Yohai Kaspi and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

Transient and stationary eddies shape the extratropical climate through their transport of heat, moisture, and momentum. In the zonal mean, the transports by transient eddies dominate over those by stationary eddies, but this is not necessarily the case locally. In particular, in storm-track entrance and exit regions during winter, stationary eddies and their interactions with the mean flow dominate the atmospheric energy transport. Here it is shown that stationary eddies can shape storm tracks and control where they terminate by modifying local baroclinicity. Simulations with an idealized aquaplanet GCM show that zonally localized surface heating alone (e.g., ocean heat flux convergence) gives rise to storm tracks, which have a well-defined length scale that is similar to that of Earth's storm tracks. The storm tracks terminate downstream of the surface heating even in the absence of continents, at a distance controlled by the stationary Rossby wavelength scale. Stationary eddies play a dual role: within about half a Rossby wavelength downstream of the heating region, stationary eddy energy fluxes increase the baroclinicity and therefore contribute to energizing the storm track; farther downstream, enhanced poleward and upward energy transport by stationary eddies reduces the baroclinicity by reducing the meridional temperature gradients and enhancing the static stability. Transports both of sensible and latent heat (water vapor) play important roles in determining where storm tracks terminate.

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Janni Yuval and Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The relation between the mean meridional temperature gradient and eddy fluxes has been addressed by several eddy flux closure theories. However, these theories give little information on the dependence of eddy fluxes on the vertical structure of the temperature gradient. The response of eddies to changes in the vertical structure of the temperature gradient is especially interesting since global circulation models suggest that as a result of greenhouse warming, the lower-tropospheric temperature gradient will decrease whereas the upper-tropospheric temperature gradient will increase. The effects of the vertical structure of baroclinicity on atmospheric circulation, particularly on the eddy activity, are investigated. An idealized global circulation model with a modified Newtonian relaxation scheme is used. The scheme allows the authors to obtain a heating profile that produces a predetermined mean temperature profile and to study the response of eddy activity to changes in the vertical structure of baroclinicity. The results indicate that eddy activity is more sensitive to temperature gradient changes in the upper troposphere. It is suggested that the larger eddy sensitivity to the upper-tropospheric temperature gradient is a consequence of large baroclinicity concentrated in upper levels. This result is consistent with a 1D Eady-like model with nonuniform shear showing more sensitivity to shear changes in regions of larger baroclinicity. In some cases, an increased temperature gradient at lower-tropospheric levels might decrease the eddy kinetic energy, and it is demonstrated that this might be related to the midwinter minimum in eddy kinetic energy observed above the northern Pacific.

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Janni Yuval and Yohai Kaspi

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Global warming projections show an anomalous temperature increase both at the Arctic surface and at lower latitudes in the upper troposphere. The Arctic amplification decreases the meridional temperature gradient, and simultaneously decreases static stability. These changes in the meridional temperature gradient and in the static stability have opposing effects on baroclinicity. The temperature increase at the upper tropospheric lower latitudes tends to increase the meridional temperature gradient and simultaneously increase static stability, which have opposing effects on baroclinicity as well. In this study, a dry idealized general circulation model with a modified Newtonian cooling scheme, which allows any chosen zonally symmetric temperature distribution to be simulated, is used to study the effect of Arctic amplification and lower-latitude upper-level warming on eddy activity. Due to the interplay between the static stability and meridional temperature gradient on atmospheric baroclinicity changes, and their opposing effect on atmospheric baroclinicity, it is found that both the Arctic amplification and lower-latitude upper-level warming could potentially lead to both decreases and increases in eddy activity, depending on the exact prescribed temperature modifications. Therefore, to understand the effect of global warming–like temperature trends on eddy activity, the zonally symmetric global warming temperature projections from state-of-the-art models are simulated. It is found that the eddy kinetic energy changes are dominated by the lower-latitude upper-level warming, which tends to weaken the eddy kinetic energy due to increased static stability. On the other hand, the eddy heat flux changes are dominated by the Arctic amplification, which tends to weaken the eddy heat flux at the lower levels.

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Rei Chemke and Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The effect of eddy–eddy interactions on zonal and meridional macroturbulent scales is investigated over a wide range of eddy scales, using high-resolution idealized GCM simulations with and without eddy–eddy interactions. The wide range of eddy scales is achieved through systematic variation of the planetary rotation rate and thus multiple-jet planets. It is found that not only are eddy–eddy interactions not essential for the formation of jets, but the existence of eddy–eddy interactions decreases the number of eddy-driven jets in the atmosphere. The eddy–eddy interactions have little effect on the jet scale, which in both types of simulations coincides with the Rhines scale through all latitudes. The decrease in the number of jets in the presence of eddy–eddy interactions occurs because of the narrowing of the latitudinal region where zonal jets appear. This narrowing occurs because eddy–eddy interactions are mostly important at latitudes poleward of where the Rhines scale is equal to the Rossby deformation radius. Thus, once eddy–eddy interactions are removed, the conversion from baroclinic to barotropic eddy kinetic energy increases, and eddy–mean flow interactions intrude into these latitudes and maintain additional jets there. The eddy–eddy interactions are found to increase the energy-containing zonal scale so it coincides with the jets’ scale and thus make the flow more isotropic. While the conversion scale coincides with the most unstable scale, the Rossby deformation radius does not provide a good indication to these scales in both types of simulations.

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