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Upper-bound general circulation of coupled ocean–atmosphere: Part 1. Atmosphere

Ou, Hsien Wang

We consider the general atmospheric circulation within the deductive framework of our climate theory. The preceding three parts of this theory have reduced the troposphere to the tropical and polar air masses and determined their temperature and the surface latitude of their dividing boundary, which provide the prior thermal constraint for the present dynamical derivation. Drawing upon its similar material conservation as the thermal property, the (columnar) potential vorticity (PV) is assumed homogenized as well in air masses, which moreover has a zero tropical value owing to the hemispheric symmetry. Inverting this PV field produces an upper-bound zonal wind that resembles the prevailing wind, suggesting that the latter may be explained as the maximum macroscopic motion extractable by random eddies – within the confine of the thermal differentiation.

With the polar front determined in conjunction with the zonal wind, the approximate leveling of the isobars at the surface and high aloft specifies the tropopause, which is colder and higher in the tropics than in the polar region. The zonal wind drives the meridional circulation via the Ekman dynamics, and the preeminence of the Hadley cell stems from the singular Ekman convergence at the equator that allows it to supply the upward mass flux in the ITCZ demanded by the global energy balance.


Also Published In

Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
October 8, 2015