The response of westerly jets to thermal driving in a primitive equation model

Seok Woo Son, Sukyong Lee

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98 Scopus citations


The structure of westerly jets in a statistically steady state is investigated with both dry and moist models on the sphere. The dry model is forced with an idealized radiative equilibrium temperature profile that consists of a global-scale base profile plus both localized tropical heating and high-latitude cooling. The tropical heating controls the intensity of the subtropical jet, while the high-latitude cooling modulates the meridional width of the extratropical baroclinic zone. The jet structure is analyzed with a large number of dry model ru ns in which the tropical heating and high-latitude cooling rates are systematically varied. This parameter study shows that, in a regime with weak tropical heating and strong high-latitude cooling, the polar-front jet separates itself from the subtropical jet, forming a double-jet state. In contrast, if the tropical heating rate is greater than a certain value, a strong single jet emerges, indicating that the presence of one or two jets in a statistically steady state is dependent upon the relative values of both the tropical heating and the baroclinic zone width. A set of moist model runs is examined in which the moisture cont ent is systematically varied. For a relatively small moisture content, the circulation prefers a double-jet state. However, for a moisture content that is greater than a certain threshold value, the two jets collapse into a single jet. With the aid of the aforementioned dry model results, an explanation for this nonlinear response exhibited by the moist model is provided. Based on the results of the dry and moist model calculations, this paper discusses various physical interpretations of the circulation responses to global warming presented in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3741-3757
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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