On the approximation of local and linear radiative damping in the middle atmosphere
Hitchcock, P., Shepherd, T. G. and Yoden, S. (2010) On the approximation of local and linear radiative damping in the middle atmosphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 67 (6). pp. 2070-2085. ISSN 1520-0469
To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2009JAS3286.1
The validity of approximating radiative heating rates in the middle atmosphere by a local linear relaxation to a reference temperature state (i.e., ‘‘Newtonian cooling’’) is investigated. Using radiative heating rate and temperature output from a chemistry–climate model with realistic spatiotemporal variability and realistic chemical and radiative parameterizations, it is found that a linear regressionmodel can capture more than 80% of the variance in longwave heating rates throughout most of the stratosphere and mesosphere, provided that the damping rate is allowed to vary with height, latitude, and season. The linear model describes departures from the climatological mean, not from radiative equilibrium. Photochemical damping rates in the upper stratosphere are similarly diagnosed. Threeimportant exceptions, however, are found.The approximation of linearity breaks down near the edges of the polar vortices in both hemispheres. This nonlinearity can be well captured by including a quadratic term. The use of a scale-independentdamping rate is not well justified in the lower tropical stratosphere because of the presence of a broad spectrum of vertical scales. The local assumption fails entirely during the breakup of the Antarctic vortex, where large fluctuations in temperature near the top of the vortex influence longwave heating rates within the quiescent region below. These results are relevant for mechanistic modeling studies of the middle atmosphere, particularly those investigating the final Antarctic warming.