A PV View of the Zonal Mean Distribution of Temperature and Wind in the Extratropical Troposphere

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  • 1 Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 2 Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

The dependence of the temperature and wind distribution of the zonal mean flow in the extratropical troposphere on the gradient of potential vorticity along isentropes is examined. The extratropics here refer to the region outside the Hadley circulation. Of particular interest is whether the distribution of temperature and wind corresponding to a constant PV along isentropes resembles the observed, and the implications of PV homogenization along isentropes for the role of the tropics.

With the assumption that PV is homogenized along isentropes, it is found that the temperature distribution in the extratropical troposphere may be determined by a linear, first-order partial differential equation. When the observed surface temperature distribution and tropical lapse rate are used as the boundary conditions, the solution of the equation is close to the observed temperature distribution except in the upper troposphere adjacent to the Hadley circulation, where the troposphere with no PV gradient is considerably colder. Consequently, the jet is also stronger. It is also found that the meridional distribution of the balanced zonal wind is very sensitive to the meridional distribution of the tropopause temperature. The result may suggest that the requirement of the global momentum balance has no practical role in determining the extratropical temperature distribution.

The authors further investigated the sensitivity of the extratropical troposphere with constant PV along isentropes to changes in conditions at the tropical boundary (the edge of the Hadley circulation). It is found that the temperature and wind distributions in the extratropical troposphere are sensitive to the vertical distribution of PV at the tropical boundary. With a surface distribution of temperature that decreases linearly with latitude, the jet maximum occurs at the tropical boundary and moves with it. The overall pattern of wind distribution is not sensitive to the change of the position of the tropical boundary.

Finally, the temperature and wind distributions of an extratropical troposphere with a finite PV gradient are calculated. It is found that the larger the isentropic PV gradient, the warmer the troposphere and the weaker the jet.

Abstract

The dependence of the temperature and wind distribution of the zonal mean flow in the extratropical troposphere on the gradient of potential vorticity along isentropes is examined. The extratropics here refer to the region outside the Hadley circulation. Of particular interest is whether the distribution of temperature and wind corresponding to a constant PV along isentropes resembles the observed, and the implications of PV homogenization along isentropes for the role of the tropics.

With the assumption that PV is homogenized along isentropes, it is found that the temperature distribution in the extratropical troposphere may be determined by a linear, first-order partial differential equation. When the observed surface temperature distribution and tropical lapse rate are used as the boundary conditions, the solution of the equation is close to the observed temperature distribution except in the upper troposphere adjacent to the Hadley circulation, where the troposphere with no PV gradient is considerably colder. Consequently, the jet is also stronger. It is also found that the meridional distribution of the balanced zonal wind is very sensitive to the meridional distribution of the tropopause temperature. The result may suggest that the requirement of the global momentum balance has no practical role in determining the extratropical temperature distribution.

The authors further investigated the sensitivity of the extratropical troposphere with constant PV along isentropes to changes in conditions at the tropical boundary (the edge of the Hadley circulation). It is found that the temperature and wind distributions in the extratropical troposphere are sensitive to the vertical distribution of PV at the tropical boundary. With a surface distribution of temperature that decreases linearly with latitude, the jet maximum occurs at the tropical boundary and moves with it. The overall pattern of wind distribution is not sensitive to the change of the position of the tropical boundary.

Finally, the temperature and wind distributions of an extratropical troposphere with a finite PV gradient are calculated. It is found that the larger the isentropic PV gradient, the warmer the troposphere and the weaker the jet.

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