Analysis of the Meridional Energy Transport by Atmospheric Overturning Circulations
2011 (English)In: Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, ISSN 0022-4928, E-ISSN 1520-0469, Vol. 68, no 8, 1806-1820 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The atmospheric meridional overturning circulation is computed using the interim European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data. Meridional mass transport streamfunctions are calculated not only using pressure as a vertical coordinate but also using temperature, specific humidity, and geopotential height as generalized vertical coordinates. Moreover, mass transport streamfunctions are calculated using the latent, the dry static, or the moist static energy as generalized vertical coordinates. The total meridional energy transport can be obtained by integrating these streamfunctions vertically over their entire energy range. The time-averaged mass transport streamfunctions are also decomposed into mean-flow and eddy-induced components. The meridional mass transport streamfunctions with temperature and specific humidity as independent variables yield a two-cell structure with a tropical Hadley-like cell and a pronounced extratropical Ferrel-like cell, which carries warm and moist air poleward. These Ferrel-like cells are much stronger than the Eulerian zonal-mean Ferrel cell, a feature that can be understood by considering the residual circulation related to specific humidity or temperature. Regardless of the generalized vertical coordinate, the present meridional mass transport streamfunctions yield essentially a two-layer structure with one poleward and one equatorward branch. The strongest meridional overturning in the midlatitudes is obtained when the specific humidity or the moist static energy is used as the vertical coordinate, indicating that the specific humidity is the variable that best distinguishes between poleward- and equatorward-moving air in the lower troposphere.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 68, no 8, 1806-1820 p.
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69229DOI: 10.1175/2010JAS3493.1ISI: 000293622300015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-69229DiVA: diva2:476988
authorCount :22012-01-122012-01-112012-01-17Bibliographically approved