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The angular momentum constraint on climate sensitivity and downward influence in the middle atmosphere

Shepherd, T. G. ORCID: and Shaw, T. A. (2004) The angular momentum constraint on climate sensitivity and downward influence in the middle atmosphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 61 (23). pp. 2899-2908. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-3295.1


It is shown that under reasonable assumptions, conservation of angular momentum provides a strong constraint on gravity wave drag feedbacks to radiative perturbations in the middle atmosphere. In the time mean, radiatively induced temperature perturbations above a given altitude z cannot induce changes in zonal mean wind and temperature below z through feedbacks in gravity wave drag alone (assuming an unchanged gravity wave source spectrum). Thus, despite the many uncertainties in the parameterization of gravity wave drag, the role of gravity wave drag in middle-atmosphere climate perturbations may be much more limited than its role in climate itself. This constraint limits the possibilities for downward influence from the mesosphere. In order for a gravity wave drag parameterization to respect the momentum constraint and avoid spurious downward influence, any nonzero parameterized momentum flux at a model lid must be deposited within the model domain, and there must be no zonal mean sponge layer. Examples are provided of how violation of these conditions leads to spurious downward influence. For planetary waves, the momentum constraint does not prohibit downward influence, but it limits the mechanisms by which it can occur: in the time mean, downward influence from a radiative perturbation can only arise through changes in reflection and meridional propagation properties of planetary waves.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:32113
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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