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The longitudinal variation of equatorial waves due to propagation on a varying zonal flow

Hoskins, B. J. and Yang, G.-Y. ORCID: (2016) The longitudinal variation of equatorial waves due to propagation on a varying zonal flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 73 (2). pp. 605-620. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-15-0167.1


The general 1-D theory of waves propagating on a zonally varying flow is developed from basic wave theory, and equations are derived for the variation of wavenumber and energy along ray paths. Different categories of behaviour are found, depending on the sign of the group velocity (cg) and a wave property, B. For B positive the wave energy and the wave number vary in the same sense, with maxima in relative easterlies or westerlies, depending on the sign of cg. Also the wave accumulation of Webster and Chang (1988) occurs where cg goes to zero. However for B negative they behave in opposite senses and wave accumulation does not occur. The zonal propagation of the gravest equatorial waves is analysed in detail using the theory. For non-dispersive Kelvin waves, B reduces to 2, and analytic solution is possible. B is positive for all the waves considered, except for the westward moving mixed Rossby-gravity (WMRG) wave which can have negative as well as positive B. Comparison is made between the observed climatologies of the individual equatorial waves and the result of pure propagation on the climatological upper tropospheric flow. The Kelvin wave distribution is in remarkable agreement, considering the approximations made. Some aspects of the WMRG and Rossby wave distributions are also in qualitative agreement. However the observed maxima in these waves in the winter westerlies in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic are not consistent with the theory. This is consistent with the importance of the sources of equatorial waves in these westerly duct regions due to higher latitude wave activity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:57779
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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