A spectral view of nonlinear fluxes and stationary-transient interaction in the atmosphere
Shepherd, T. G. (1987) A spectral view of nonlinear fluxes and stationary-transient interaction in the atmosphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 44 (8). pp. 1166-1179. ISSN 1520-0469
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/1520-0469(1987)044<1166:ASVONF>2.0.CO;2
Nonlinear spectral transfers of kinetic energy and enstrophy, and stationary-transient interaction, are studied using global FGGE data for January 1979. It is found that the spectral transfers arise primarily from a combination, in roughly equal measure, of pure transient and mixed stationary-transient interactions. The pure transient interactions are associated with a transient eddy field which is approximately locally homogeneous and isotropic, and they appear to be consistently understood within the context of two-dimensional homogeneous turbulence. Theory based on spatial wale separation concepts suggests that the mixed interactions may be understood physically, to a first approximation, as a process of shear-induced spectral transfer of transient enstrophy along lines of constant zonal wavenumber. This essentially conservative enstrophy transfer generally involves highly nonlocal stationary-transient energy conversions. The observational analysis demonstrates that the shear-induced transient enstrophy transfer is mainly associated with intermediate-scale (zonal wavenumber m > 3) transients and is primarily to smaller (meridional) scales, so that the transient flow acts as a source of stationary energy. In quantitative terms, this transient-eddy rectification corresponds to a forcing timescale in the stationary energy budget which is of the same order of magnitude as most estimates of the damping timescale in simple stationary-wave models (5 to 15 days). Moreover, the nonlinear interactions involved are highly nonlocal and cover a wide range of transient scales of motion.