Linear Baroclinic instability with the Geostrophic Momentum Approximation

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park Pennsylvania
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Abstract

The linear Eady model of baroclinic instability with the geostrophic momentum (GM) approximation is solved analytically in physical space and shown to be identical to linear three-dimensional semigeostrophic theory. Both the growth rates and the wavenumber of the short-wave cutoff are larger than those predicted by quasi-geostrophic (QG) theory. This behavior arises because the effective static stability is reduced in the GM case. These results are opposite to those using standard nongeostrophic (NG) theory, and the discrepancy increases with decreasing Richardson number. Energetically, the unstable GM normal modes enhance the conversion of available potential energy compared to the QG modes and also convert available kinetic energy to eddy kinetic energy. With regards to the structure of the unstable modes, the northward tilt with height in the GM case is more consistent with NG theory than is the QG solution which displays no meridional tilt.

Additional analysis addresses the effect of assuming that either the meridional or zonal component of the perturbation wind field is geostrophic.

Abstract

The linear Eady model of baroclinic instability with the geostrophic momentum (GM) approximation is solved analytically in physical space and shown to be identical to linear three-dimensional semigeostrophic theory. Both the growth rates and the wavenumber of the short-wave cutoff are larger than those predicted by quasi-geostrophic (QG) theory. This behavior arises because the effective static stability is reduced in the GM case. These results are opposite to those using standard nongeostrophic (NG) theory, and the discrepancy increases with decreasing Richardson number. Energetically, the unstable GM normal modes enhance the conversion of available potential energy compared to the QG modes and also convert available kinetic energy to eddy kinetic energy. With regards to the structure of the unstable modes, the northward tilt with height in the GM case is more consistent with NG theory than is the QG solution which displays no meridional tilt.

Additional analysis addresses the effect of assuming that either the meridional or zonal component of the perturbation wind field is geostrophic.

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