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An adiabatic mechanism for the reduction of jet meander amplitude by potential vorticity filamentation

Harvey, B., Methven, J. and Ambaum, M. (2018) An adiabatic mechanism for the reduction of jet meander amplitude by potential vorticity filamentation. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 75. pp. 4091-4106. ISSN 1520-0469

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-18-0136.1


The amplitude of ridges in large-amplitude Rossby waves have been shown to decrease systematically with lead time during the first 1-5 days of operational global numerical weather forecasts. These models also exhibit a rapid reduction in the isentropic gradient of potential vorticity (PV) at the tropopause during the first 1-2 days of forecasts. This paper identifies a mechanism linking the reduction in large-scale meander amplitude on jet streams to declining PV gradients. The mechanism proposed is that a smoother isentropic transition of PV across the tropopause leads to excessive PV filamentation on the jet flanks and a more lossy waveguide. The approach taken is to analyse Rossby wave dynamics in a single-layer quasi-geostrophic model. Numerical simulations show that the amplitude of a Rossby wave propagating along a narrow but smooth PV front do indeed decay transiently with time. This process is explained in terms of the filamentation of PV from the jet core and associated absorption of wave activity by the critical layers on the jet flanks, and a simple method for quantitatively predicting the magnitude of the amplitude reduction without simulation is presented. Explicitly-diffusive simulations are then used to show that the combined impact of diffusion and the adiabatic rearrangement of PV can result in a decay rate of Rossby waves which is 2-4 times faster than could be expected from diffusion acting alone. This predicted decay rate is sufficient to explain the decay observed in operational weather forecasting models.

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:79535
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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