# General Circulation of the Atmosphere Lisa Goddard 19

General Circulation of the Atmosphere Lisa Goddard 19 September 2006 Main Points * Atmosphere wants to attain balance - Circulation results from the atmosphere

adjusting to remove imposed imbalances * Know which way the wind blows - and how that establishes the local climate & environment * Know why the circulation should

behave as it does - Geostrophic balance Hydrostatic balance Ideal Gas Law Momentum & energy conservation

Outline 1. Review: The Forces : pressure gradient force, Coriolis force, friction. 2. and the Balances: Geostrophic balance, Hydrostatic balance 3. What does the atmosphere look like? (time averaged view) 4. Why does it look that way? Zonally

averaged thermally-driven circulation 5. Longitudinal asymmetries: oceans, mountains 6. Poleward energy transport Vertical pressure gradient force Due to random

molecular motions, momentum is continually imparted to the walls of the volume element by the surrounding air. The momentum transfer per unit time,

per unit area, is the pressure In the absence of atmospheric motions the gravity force must be exactly balanced by the vertical component of the pressure

force ... eastward pressure-gradient force per unit mass Coriolis Force: Geostrophic balance

A large scale dynamical balance Geostrophic Balance: the Coriolis force The primary horizontal balance of forces in atmospheric motion is the geostrophic balance:

Geostrophic Flow with Friction Friction slows down the wind, causing a weakening in the Coriolis force. A new balance is achieved between the resultant of the Coriolis force (CF) and friction on one hand and the pressure gradient force (PGF) on the other hand. What does the General Circulation look

like? Why does it look that way? It is driven by differential heating Equator to Pole Climate Zones according to

Sea-level pressure units: hPa Surface winds units: m/s

Schematic of Hadley Circulation Friction, Mass Continuity Convergence/Divergence Friction leads to the convergence of air into the centers of low pressure and

divergence out of the centers of high pressure. Mass continuity (or mass balance) implies that there is rising motion in a low pressure system and sinking motion in a high, leading to a reversal of the convergence/divergence patterns aloft. The tendency of air to rise over a low pressure system creates favorable conditions for the formation of rain clouds.

In high pressure systems the sinking motion leads to clear and dry conditions. Precipitation units: mm/day Schematic of

Hadley Circulation 500 hPa Geopotential height (Z) units: m Geopotential height Switching between z & p coordinates

p z Standard coordinate p x transformation z x p z

Minus sign included p p z because p varies x z x p oppositely to z

z units: m Now invoke p z x g x hydrostatic eqn. z

p Geopotential : gz p x x So,

1 p x x 1 p y y Latitude-height

cross-section of Zonal wind units: m/s 500 hPa (= mb) Geopotential Height (m) N. Hem.

S. Hem. units: m Thermal Wind: the vertical shear of the Geostrophic Wind

Horizontal temperature gradients - a baroclinic atmosphere - imply a vertical shear in the geostrophic wind, through hydrostatic balance -

Warmer temperatures on the right raise the 980 mb surface, creating a vertical shear in the geostrophic wind. PGF is right to left, geostrophic flow is into the page (in the northern hemisphere). Planetary-scale

Thermal wind - units: m/s Midlatitudes Baroclinic instability

Eddy fluxes of momentum force an indirect meridional circulation: the Ferrel cell Baroclinic Instability (Temperature)

Baroclinic Instability (Winds) Zonal Asymmetries Land-sea contrasts. Highly seasonally dependent.

Effects of Mountains on Local Climate Moist convection can explain the local climate effect of mountains, namely the tendency for large mountain ranges to have excess precipitation on the upwind side and a desert or rain shadow on the downwind side. The former is due to the lifting of the incoming air by the mountain. The latter is due to the warming of the rising air due to latent heat release.

Surface winds units: m/s 300 hPa January geopotential height Zonal

asymmetries The Walker Circulation Atmospheric energy transport Poleward transport of moist static energy occurs mainly through the Hadley circulation

in the tropics, and by baroclinic waves (eddy heat transports) at higher latitudes. internal energy gravitational PE latent heat content (of an air parcel)

The Zonally Averaged Mass Circulation The annually-averaged atmospheric mass circulation in the latitude pressure plane (the meridional plan). The arrows depict the direction of air movement in the meridional plane. The contour interval is 2x10 10 Kg/sec - this is the amount of mass

that is circulating between every two contours. The total amount of mass circulating around each "cell" is given by the largest value in that cell. Data based on the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis project 1958-1998. Summary General circulation driven by horizontal gradients in diabatic heating

Meridional: equator - pole heating differential Zonal asymmetries: land - sea contrasts; mountains Tropical circulations characterized by thermally-direct cells (Hadley

Cell, Walker Cell) The flow is largely zonal and geostrophic, but meridional flow across isobars maintains a thermal wind balance between the geostrophic wind and the temperature field Extratropical circulation is dominated by baroclinic instability

Poleward transport of moist static energy occurs mainly through the Hadley cell in the tropics, and by baroclinic waves at higher latitudes.

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