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The life cycle of meridional heat flux peaks

Marcheggiani, A. ORCID:, Ambaum, M. H. P. ORCID: and Messori, G. (2022) The life cycle of meridional heat flux peaks. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 148 (744). pp. 1113-1126. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.4249


Covariance between meridional wind and air temperature in the lower troposphere quantifies the poleward flux of dry static energy in the atmosphere; in the mid-latitudes, this is primarily realised by baroclinic weather systems. It is shown that strong covariance between temperature and meridional wind results from both enhanced correlation and enhanced variance, and that the two evolve according to a distinct temporal structure akin to a life-cycle. Starting from a state of low correlation and variance, there is first a gradual build up to modal growth at constant, high correlation, followed by a rapid decay at relatively low correlation values. This life-cycle evolution is observed most markedly over oceanic regions, and cannot be explained on purely statistical grounds. We find that local peaks of meridional heat flux are not exclusively linked to the action of individual weather systems and can affect the atmospheric circulation on larger length scales through wave propagation along wave guides.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:102681
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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