Baroclinic Eddy Equilibration under Specified Seasonal Forcing
Author(s)Zhang, Yang; Stone, Peter H.
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Baroclinic eddy equilibration under a Northern Hemisphere–like seasonal forcing is studied using a modified multilayer quasigeostrophic channel model to investigate the widely used “quick baroclinic eddy equilibration” assumption and to understand to what extent baroclinic adjustment can be applied to interpret the midlatitude climate. Under a slowly varying seasonal forcing, the eddy and mean flow seasonal behavior is characterized by four clearly divided time intervals: an eddy inactive time interval in summer, a mainly dynamically determined eddy spinup time interval starting in midfall and lasting less than one month, and a quasi-equilibrium time interval for the zonal mean flow available potential energy from late fall to late spring, with a mainly external forcing determined spindown time interval for eddy activity from late winter to late spring. The baroclinic adjustment can be clearly observed from late fall to late spring. The sensitivity study of the eddy equilibration to the time scale of the external forcing indicates that the time scale separation between the baroclinic adjustment and the external forcing in midlatitudes is only visible for external forcing cycles one year and longer. In spite of the strong seasonality of the eddy activity, similar to the observations, a robust potential vorticity (PV) structure is still observed through all the seasons. However, it is found that baroclinic eddy is not the only candidate mechanism to maintain the robust PV structure. The role of the boundary layer thermal forcing and the moist convection in maintaining the lower-level PV structure is discussed. The adjustment and the vertical variation of the lower-level stratification play an important role in all of these mechanisms.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
American Meteorological Society
Zhang, Yang, Peter H. Stone, 2010: Baroclinic Eddy Equilibration under Specified Seasonal Forcing. J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 2632–2648. © 2010 American Meteorological Society.
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