On the Mean Meridional Mass Motions of the Stratosphere and Mesosphere

Timothy Dunkerton Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195

Search for other papers by Timothy Dunkerton in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Full access

Abstract

Using a simplified, approximate “Lagrangian-mean” dynamical formulation, the mean meridional mass circulation of the stratosphere and mesosphere is discussed. Under solstice conditions, it is shown that this Lagrangian-mean circulation may be inferred, as a first approximation, from the Eulerian-mean diabatic heating. Diabatic heating rates for the solstices, originally derived by Murgatroyd and Goody (1958), result in Lagrangian-mean rising motion at the tropical tropopause, subsidence across the extratropical tropopause, and a very strong summer-to-winter pole flow in the mesosphere. This circulation is exactly that obtained by Murgatroyd and Singleton (1961) for the solstices. Those authors, however, attempted to identify this circulation as the Eulerian-mean motion, and were later criticized for their neglect of the meridional eddy heat flux in the calculation, which proved to be extremely important in the winter hemisphere. The present study, nevertheless, indicates that Murgatroyd and Singleton’s circulation may in fact be representative of actual air parcel motions in the stratosphere and mesosphere.

Abstract

Using a simplified, approximate “Lagrangian-mean” dynamical formulation, the mean meridional mass circulation of the stratosphere and mesosphere is discussed. Under solstice conditions, it is shown that this Lagrangian-mean circulation may be inferred, as a first approximation, from the Eulerian-mean diabatic heating. Diabatic heating rates for the solstices, originally derived by Murgatroyd and Goody (1958), result in Lagrangian-mean rising motion at the tropical tropopause, subsidence across the extratropical tropopause, and a very strong summer-to-winter pole flow in the mesosphere. This circulation is exactly that obtained by Murgatroyd and Singleton (1961) for the solstices. Those authors, however, attempted to identify this circulation as the Eulerian-mean motion, and were later criticized for their neglect of the meridional eddy heat flux in the calculation, which proved to be extremely important in the winter hemisphere. The present study, nevertheless, indicates that Murgatroyd and Singleton’s circulation may in fact be representative of actual air parcel motions in the stratosphere and mesosphere.

Save