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On the coupling between barotropic and baroclinic modes of extratropical atmospheric variability

Boljka, L., Shepherd, T. G. and Blackburn, M. (2018) On the coupling between barotropic and baroclinic modes of extratropical atmospheric variability. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 75 (6). pp. 1853-1871. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-17-0370.1

Abstract/Summary

The baroclinic and barotropic components of atmospheric dynamics are usually viewed as interlinked through the baroclinic life cycle, with baroclinic growth of eddies connected to heat fluxes, barotropic decay connected to momentum fluxes, and the two eddy fluxes connected through the Eliassen-Palm wave activity. However, recent observational studies have suggested that these two components of the dynamics are largely decoupled in their variability, with variations in the zonal mean flow associated mainly with the momentum fluxes, variations in the baroclinic wave activity associated mainly with the heat fluxes, and essentially no correlation between the two. These relationships are examined in a dry dynamical core model under different configurations and in Southern Hemisphere observations, considering different frequency bands to account for the different timescales of atmospheric variability. It is shown that at intermediate periods longer than 10 days the decoupling of the baroclinic and barotropic modes of variability can indeed occur as the eddy kinetic energy at those time scales is only affected by the heat fluxes and not the momentum fluxes. The baroclinic variability includes the oscillator model with periods of 20-30 days. At both the synoptic timescale and the quasi-steady limit the baroclinic and barotropic modes of variability are linked, consistent with baroclinic life cycles and the positive baroclinic feedback mechanism, respectively. In the quasi-steady limit the pulsating modes of variability and their correlations depend sensitively on the model climatology.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:75911
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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