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Eddy saturation in a reduced two-level model of the atmosphere

Kobras, M., Ambaum, M. H. P. ORCID: and Lucarini, V. ORCID: (2022) Eddy saturation in a reduced two-level model of the atmosphere. Geophysical & Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, 116 (1). pp. 38-55. ISSN 0309-1929

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/03091929.2021.1990912


Eddy saturation describes the nonlinear mechanism in geophysical flows whereby, when average conditions are considered, direct forcing of the zonal flow increases the eddy kinetic energy, while the energy associated with the zonal flow does not increase. Here we present a minimal baroclinic model that exhibits complete eddy saturation. Starting from Phillips’ classical quasi-geostrophic two-level model on the beta channel of the mid-latitudes, we derive a reduced order model comprising of six ordinary differential equations including parameterised eddies. This model features two physically realisable steady state solutions, one a purely zonal flow and one where, additionally, finite eddy motions are present. As the baroclinic forcing in the form of diabatic heating is increased, the zonal solution loses stability and the eddy solution becomes attracting. After this bifurcation, the zonal components of the solution are independent of the baroclinic forcing, and the excess of heat in the low latitudes is efficiently transported northwards by finite eddies, in the spirit of baroclinic adjustment.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:100820
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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