A Simple Mechanism for Blocking

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
  • | 2 Department of Mathematics, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Technion City, Haifa, Israel
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Abstract

Numerical experiments show that blocking in a barotropic atmosphere can occur as a resonant enhancement of Rossby lee waves forced by two stationary sources of potential vorticity. In particular, if an upstream source of stationary forcing enhances the northerly flow over orography, then blocking occurs downstream of the mountain. In an analytical study, we show that, in the presence of friction, Rossby lee waves generate a rectified current downstream of the mountain, which does not vanish in the limit of zero friction.

The relevance of this study to observed generation of blocking in the Atlantic Ocean and immediately upstream of the Rockies is discussed.

Abstract

Numerical experiments show that blocking in a barotropic atmosphere can occur as a resonant enhancement of Rossby lee waves forced by two stationary sources of potential vorticity. In particular, if an upstream source of stationary forcing enhances the northerly flow over orography, then blocking occurs downstream of the mountain. In an analytical study, we show that, in the presence of friction, Rossby lee waves generate a rectified current downstream of the mountain, which does not vanish in the limit of zero friction.

The relevance of this study to observed generation of blocking in the Atlantic Ocean and immediately upstream of the Rockies is discussed.

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