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Surface superrotation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4786-6058
2018 (English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Equatorial superrotation is commonly observed in simulations of Earth and planetary climates, but is almost without exception found to occur only at upper levels, with zero or easterly winds at the surface. Surface superrotation—a state with climatological zonal-mean westerlies at the equatorial surface—would lead to a major reorganization of the tropical ocean circulation with important consequences for global climate. Here, we examine the mechanisms that give rise to surface superrotation. We identify four theoretical scenarios under which surface superrotation may be achieved. Using an axisymmetric model forced by prescribed zonal-mean torques, we provide concrete examples of surface superrotation under all four scenarios. We also find that we can induce surface superrotation in a full-complexity atmospheric general circulation model, albeit in an extreme parameter range (in particular, convective momentum transport is artificially increased by almost an order of magnitude). We conclude that a transition to surface superrotation is unlikely in Earth-like climates, including ancient or future warm climates, though this conclusion is subject to the currently large uncertainties in the parameterization of convective momentum transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research subject
Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158486DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-18-0076.1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-158486DiVA, id: diva2:1237005
Available from: 2018-08-07 Created: 2018-08-07 Last updated: 2018-08-17
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