Tropical vorticity forcing and superrotation in the spherical shallow-water equations
Number of Authors: 3
2017 (English)In: Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, ISSN 0035-9009, E-ISSN 1477-870X, Vol. 143, no 703, 957-965 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The response of the nonlinear shallow-water equations (SWE) on a sphere to tropical vorticity forcing is examined, with an emphasis on momentum fluxes and the emergence of a superrotating state. Fixing the radiative damping and momentum drag time-scales to be of the order of a few days, a state of superrotation (SR) is shown to emerge under steady large-scale and random small-scale vorticity forcing. In the first example, the stationary response to a pair of equal and oppositely signed vortices placed on the Equator is considered. Here, the equatorial flux budget is dominated by the eddy fluxes and these drive the system into a state of SR. Eventually, the flux associated with the momentum drag increases to balance the eddy fluxes, resulting in a steady state with a superrotating jet at the Equator. The initial value problem with these twin vortices also exhibits SR driven by eddy fluxes. Curiously, this transient solution spontaneously propagates westward and continually circumnavigates the globe. It is worth emphasizing that this SR state does not rely on any particular form of dissipation at large scales and is, in fact, observed even in the absence of any large-scale damping mechanism. In the second example, a random small-scale vorticity forcing is applied across the Tropics. The statistically steady state obtained is fairly turbulent in nature, but here too the eddy fluxes dominate and the system exhibits SR. It is important to note that, in both these cases, the direct forcing of the zonal mean zonal flow is zero by construction and the eddy fluxes at the Equator are responsible for its eastward acceleration. Further, in both these examples, the rotational part of the flow dominates the momentum fluxes as well as the stationary zonal mean zonal flow itself. Arguments based on the nature of potential vorticity and enstrophy are put forth to shed some light on these results.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 143, no 703, 957-965 p.
superrotation, shallow water, momentum flux, PV conservation
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141279DOI: 10.1002/qj.2979ISI: 000396560600029OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-141279DiVA: diva2:1086993