Latitude Dependence of Eddy Variances

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
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Abstract

The eddy variance of a meteorological field must tend to zero at high latitudes due solely to the nature of spherical polar coordinates. The zonal averaging operator defines a length scale: the circumference of the latitude circle. When the circumference of the latitude circle is greater than the correlation length of the field, the eddy variance from transient eddies is the result of differences between statistically independent regions. When the circumference is less than the correlation length, the eddy variance is computed from points that are well correlated with each other, and so is reduced. The expansion of a field into zonal Fourier components is also influenced by the use of spherical coordinates. As is well known, a phenomenon of fixed wavelength will have different zonal wavenumbers at different latitudes. Simple analytical examples of these effects are presented along with an observational example from satellite ozone data. It is found that geometrical effects can be important even in middle latitudes.

Abstract

The eddy variance of a meteorological field must tend to zero at high latitudes due solely to the nature of spherical polar coordinates. The zonal averaging operator defines a length scale: the circumference of the latitude circle. When the circumference of the latitude circle is greater than the correlation length of the field, the eddy variance from transient eddies is the result of differences between statistically independent regions. When the circumference is less than the correlation length, the eddy variance is computed from points that are well correlated with each other, and so is reduced. The expansion of a field into zonal Fourier components is also influenced by the use of spherical coordinates. As is well known, a phenomenon of fixed wavelength will have different zonal wavenumbers at different latitudes. Simple analytical examples of these effects are presented along with an observational example from satellite ozone data. It is found that geometrical effects can be important even in middle latitudes.

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