TRANSFER OF MOMENTUM VORTICITY AND THE MAINTENANCE OF ZONAL CIRCULATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE

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  • 1 University of California at Los Angeles
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Abstract

The properties of the volume integral of momentum vorticity are examined. These results are applied to the study of the maintenance of zonal circulation of a polar cap. It is shown that the rate of change of the vertical component of relative momentum vorticity is mainly due to (1) the effect of the convergence of meridional flux of angular momentum and its lateral boundary surface, (2) the frictional force at the earth's surface, and (3) the action of the mountains on the atmosphere. A model for the mean state of the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere, based on the distribution of the mean surface zonal wind, is studied; and the maintenance of the zonal circulation is discussed on the basis of the meridional transports of both angular momentum and momentum vorticity. It is shown that in the middle latitudes the meridional transfer of momentum vorticity is directed toward the north pole, whereas in the lower latitudes, as well as in the polar region, the transport is directed toward the equator. These results agree with the mean meridional transport of momentum vorticity in the month of January 1949, computed from the geostrophic winds.

Abstract

The properties of the volume integral of momentum vorticity are examined. These results are applied to the study of the maintenance of zonal circulation of a polar cap. It is shown that the rate of change of the vertical component of relative momentum vorticity is mainly due to (1) the effect of the convergence of meridional flux of angular momentum and its lateral boundary surface, (2) the frictional force at the earth's surface, and (3) the action of the mountains on the atmosphere. A model for the mean state of the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere, based on the distribution of the mean surface zonal wind, is studied; and the maintenance of the zonal circulation is discussed on the basis of the meridional transports of both angular momentum and momentum vorticity. It is shown that in the middle latitudes the meridional transfer of momentum vorticity is directed toward the north pole, whereas in the lower latitudes, as well as in the polar region, the transport is directed toward the equator. These results agree with the mean meridional transport of momentum vorticity in the month of January 1949, computed from the geostrophic winds.

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