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On the local view of atmospheric available potential energy

Novak, L. and Tailleux, R. (2018) On the local view of atmospheric available potential energy. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 75 (6). pp. 1891-1907. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-17-0330.1


The possibility of constructing Lorenz's concept of available potential energy (APE) from a local principle has been known for some time, but has received very little attention so far. Yet, the local APE density framework offers the advantage of providing a positive definite local form of potential energy, which like kinetic energy can be transported, converted, and created/dissipated locally. In contrast to Lorenz’s definition, which relies on the exact from of potential energy, the local APE density theory uses the particular form of potential energy appropriate to the approximations considered. In this paper, this idea is illustrated for the dry hydrostatic primitive equations, whose relevant form of potential energy is the specific enthalpy. The local APE density is non-quadratic in general, but can nevertheless be partitioned exactly into mean and eddy components regardless of the Reynolds averaging operator used. This paper introduces a new form of the local APE density that is easily computable from atmospheric datasets. The advantages of using the local APE density over the classical Lorenz APE are highlighted. The paper also presents the first calculation of the three-dimensional local APE density in observation-based atmospheric data. Finally, it illustrates how the eddy and mean components of the local APE density can be used to study regional and temporal variability in the large-scale circulation. It is revealed that advection from high latitudes is necessary to supply APE into the storm track regions, and that Greenland and Ross Sea, which have suffered from rapid land ice and sea ice loss in recent decades, are particularly susceptible to APE variability.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:75733
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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