Nonlinear hydrostatic adjustment

Peter R. Bannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The final equilibrium state of Lamb's hydrostatic adjustment problem is found for finite amplitude heating. Lamb's problem consists of the response of a compressible atmosphere to an instantaneous, horizontally homogeneous heating. Results are presented for both isothermal and nonisothermal atmospheres. As in the linear problem, the fluid displacements are confined to the heated layer and to the region aloft with no displacement of the fluid below the heating. The region above the heating is displaced uniformly upward for heating and downward for cooling. The amplitudes of the displacements are larger for cooling than for warming. Examination of the energetics reveals that the fraction of the heat deposited into the acoustic modes increases linearly with the amplitude of the heating. This fraction is typically small (e.g., 0.06% for a uniform warming of 1 K) and is essentially independent of the lapse rate of the base-state atmosphere. In contrast a fixed fraction of the available energy generated by the heating goes into the acoustic modes. This fraction (e.g., 12% for a standard tropospheric lapse rate) agrees with the linear result and increases with increasing stability of the basestate atmosphere. The compressible results are compared to solutions using various forms of the soundproof equations. None of the soundproof equations predict the finite amplitude solutions accurately. However, in the small amplitude limit, only the equations for deep convection advanced by Dutton and Fichtl predict the thermodynamic state variables accurately for a nonisothermal base-state atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3606-3617
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonlinear hydrostatic adjustment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this