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The omega equation and potential vorticity

Hoskins, B. J., Pedder, M. and Jones, D. W. (2003) The omega equation and potential vorticity. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 129 (595). pp. 3277-3303. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1256/qj.02.135


Two fundamental perspectives on the dynamics of midlatitude weather systems are provided by potential vorticity (PV) and the omega equation. The aim of this paper is to investigate the link between the two perspectives, which has so far received very little attention in the meteorological literature. It also aims to give a quantitative basis for discussion of quasi-geostrophic vertical motion in terms of components associated with system movement, maintaining a constant thermal structure, and with the development of that structure. The former links with the isentropic relative-flow analysis technique. Viewed in a moving frame of reference, the measured development of a system depends on the velocity of that frame of reference. The requirement that the development should be a minimum provides a quantitative method for determining the optimum system velocity. The component of vertical velocity associated with development is shown to satisfy an omega equation with forcing determined from the relative advection of interior PV and boundary temperature. The analysis carries through in the presence of diabatic heating provided the omega equation forcing is based on the interior PV and boundary thermal tendencies, including the heating effect. The analysis is shown to be possible also at the level of the semi-geostrophic approximation. The analysis technique is applied to a number of idealized problems that can be considered to be building blocks for midlatitude synoptic-scale dynamics. They focus on the influences of interior PV, boundary temperature, an interior boundary, baroclinic instability associated with two boundaries, and also diabatic heating. In each case, insights yielded by the new perspective are sought into the dynamical behaviour, especially that related to vertical motion. Copyright © 2003 Royal Meteorological Society

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:5153
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atmospheric dynamics;Development Isentropic flow;Quasi-geostrophic;Semi-geostrophic Translation;Vertical velocity
Additional Information:Part B
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society

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