Contour Advection with Surgery: A Technique for Investigating Finescale Structure in Tracer Transport

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  • 1 Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

We present a trajectory technique, contour advection with surgery (CAS), for tracing the evolution of material contours in a specified (including observed) evolving flow. CAS uses the algorithms developed by Dritschel for contour dynamics/surgery to trace the evolution of specified contours. The contours are represented by a series of particles, which are advected by a specified, gridded, wind distribution. The resolution of the contours is preserved by continually adjusting the number of particles, and finescale features are produced that are not present in the input data (and cannot easily be generated using standard trajectory techniques). The reliability, and dependence on the spatial and temporal resolution of the wind field, of the CAS procedure is examined by comparisons with high-resolution numerical data (from contour dynamics calculations and from a general circulation model), and with routine stratospheric analyses. These comparisons show that the large-scale motions dominate the deformation field and that CAS can accurately reproduce small scales from low-resolution wind fields. The CAS technique therefore enables examination of atmospheric tracer transport at previously unattainable resolution.

Abstract

We present a trajectory technique, contour advection with surgery (CAS), for tracing the evolution of material contours in a specified (including observed) evolving flow. CAS uses the algorithms developed by Dritschel for contour dynamics/surgery to trace the evolution of specified contours. The contours are represented by a series of particles, which are advected by a specified, gridded, wind distribution. The resolution of the contours is preserved by continually adjusting the number of particles, and finescale features are produced that are not present in the input data (and cannot easily be generated using standard trajectory techniques). The reliability, and dependence on the spatial and temporal resolution of the wind field, of the CAS procedure is examined by comparisons with high-resolution numerical data (from contour dynamics calculations and from a general circulation model), and with routine stratospheric analyses. These comparisons show that the large-scale motions dominate the deformation field and that CAS can accurately reproduce small scales from low-resolution wind fields. The CAS technique therefore enables examination of atmospheric tracer transport at previously unattainable resolution.

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