A Spectral Energetics Analysis of Atmospheric Blocking

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  • 1 Department of Earth Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
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Abstract

The spectral energetics of two blocking case studies from the winter of 1978–79 are calculated. One case occurred over the North Atlantic and the other over the North Pacific. The temporal evolution and geographical distribution of the energetics of the planetary-scale (zonal harmonic wavenumbers 1–4) and the intermediate-scale (wavenumbers 5–10) wave ensembles are examined to identify the physical mechanisms important in the blocking process.

The Atlantic block was forced by the nonlinear interaction of intense baroclinic cyclone-scale waves with barotropic, ultralong waves. The Pacific blocking resulted from the baroclinic amplification of planetary-scale waves. In addition, at least two necessary conditions are required for the development of blocking. First, one of the forcing mechanisms must be in operation, and second, the phase of the antecedent planetary-scale waves must be such that the forcing mechanism can amplify them into a blocking pattern.

In each of the cases studied, the blocking developed downstream of intense intermediate-or large-scale cyclogenesis.

Abstract

The spectral energetics of two blocking case studies from the winter of 1978–79 are calculated. One case occurred over the North Atlantic and the other over the North Pacific. The temporal evolution and geographical distribution of the energetics of the planetary-scale (zonal harmonic wavenumbers 1–4) and the intermediate-scale (wavenumbers 5–10) wave ensembles are examined to identify the physical mechanisms important in the blocking process.

The Atlantic block was forced by the nonlinear interaction of intense baroclinic cyclone-scale waves with barotropic, ultralong waves. The Pacific blocking resulted from the baroclinic amplification of planetary-scale waves. In addition, at least two necessary conditions are required for the development of blocking. First, one of the forcing mechanisms must be in operation, and second, the phase of the antecedent planetary-scale waves must be such that the forcing mechanism can amplify them into a blocking pattern.

In each of the cases studied, the blocking developed downstream of intense intermediate-or large-scale cyclogenesis.

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