Diagnosing the vertical structure of the eddy diffusivity in real and idealized atmospheres
Author(s)Jansen, Malte Friedrich; Ferrari, Raffaele
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The Earth's extratropical troposphere is equilibrated by turbulent eddy fluxes of potential temperature and momentum. The equilibrated state has the remarkable characteristic that isentropic slopes leaving the surface in the subtropics reach the tropopause near the Poles. It has been speculated that turbulent eddy fluxes maintain this state for a wide range of radiative forcing and planetary parameters. In a previous study, the authors showed that this state needs to be associated with an eddy diffusivity of Ertel potential vorticity that is largest at the surface and decays through the troposphere to approximately zero at the tropopause. This result is confirmed in this study using atmospheric reanalysis and idealized numerical simulations. However, it is also shown that the vertical profile of the eddy diffusivity can change, resulting in different isentropic slopes and climates. This is illustrated with a series of idealized numerical simulations with varying planetary scales and rotation rates.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Jansen, Malte, and Raffaele Ferrari. “Diagnosing the Vertical Structure of the Eddy Diffusivity in Real and Idealized Atmospheres.” Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc 141, no. 687 (June 19, 2014): 631–641.