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Zonal-mean circulation response to reduced air-sea momentum roughness

Polichtchouk, I. and Shepherd, T. G. (2016) Zonal-mean circulation response to reduced air-sea momentum roughness. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 142 (700). pp. 2611-2622. ISSN 1477-870X (Part A)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.2850

Abstract/Summary

The impact of uncertainties in surface layer physics on the atmospheric general circulation is comparatively unexplored. Here the sensitivity of the zonal-mean circulation to reduced air-sea momentum roughness (Z0m) at low flow speed is investigated with the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3). In an aquaplanet framework with prescribed sea surface temperatures, the response to reduced Z0m resembles the La Niña minus El Niño response to El Niño Southern Oscillation variability with: i) a poleward shift of the mid-latitude westerlies extending all the way to the surface; ii) a weak poleward shift of the subtropical descent region; and iii) a weakening of the Hadley circulation, which is generally also accompanied by a poleward shift of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and the tropical surface easterlies. Mechanism-denial experiments show this response to be initiated by the reduction of tropical latent and sensible heat fluxes, effected by reducing Z0m. The circulation response is elucidated by considering the effect of the tropical energy fluxes on the Hadley circulation strength, the upper tropospheric critical layer latitudes, and the lower-tropospheric baroclinic eddy forcing. The ITCZ shift is understood via moist static energy budget analysis in the tropics. The circulation response to reduced Z0m carries over to more complex setups with seasonal cycle, full complexity of atmosphere-ice-land-ocean interaction, and a slab ocean lower boundary condition. Hence, relatively small changes in the surface parameterization parameters can lead to a significant circulation response.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:65789
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society

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