Boundary-layer friction in midlatitude cyclone
Adamson, D. S., Belcher, S. E., Hoskins, B. J. and Plant, R. S. (2006) Boundary-layer friction in midlatitude cyclone. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 132 (614). pp. 101-124. ISSN 1477-870X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1256/qj.04.145
Results from an idealized three-dimensional baroclinic life-cycle model are interpreted in a potential vorticity (PV) framework to identify the physical mechanisms by which frictional processes acting in the atmospheric boundary layer modify and reduce the baroclinic development of a midlatitude storm. Considering a life cycle where the only non-conservative process acting is boundary-layer friction, the rate of change of depth-averaged PV within the boundary layer is governed by frictional generation of PV and the flux of PV into the free troposphere. Frictional generation of PV has two contributions: Ekman generation, which is directly analogous to the well-known Ekman-pumping mechanism for barotropic vortices, and baroclinic generation, which depends on the turning of the wind in the boundary layer and low-level horizontal temperature gradients. It is usually assumed, at least implicitly, that an Ekman process of negative PV generation is the mechanism whereby friction reduces the strength and growth rates of baroclinic systems. Although there is evidence for this mechanism, it is shown that baroclinic generation of PV dominates, producing positive PV anomalies downstream of the low centre, close to developing warm and cold fronts. These PV anomalies are advected by the large-scale warm conveyor belt flow upwards and polewards, fluxed into the troposphere near the warm front, and then advected westwards relative to the system. The result is a thin band of positive PV in the lower troposphere above the surface low centre. This PV is shown to be associated with a positive static stability anomaly, which Rossby edge wave theory suggests reduces the strength of the coupling between the upper- and lower-level PV anomalies, thereby reducing the rate of baroclinic development. This mechanism, which is a result of the baroclinic dynamics in the frontal regions, is in marked contrast with simple barotropic spin-down ideas. Finally we note the implications of these frictionally generated PV anomalies for cyclone forecasting.
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