Forced-Dissipative Shallow-Water Turbulence on the Sphere and the Atmospheric Circulation of the Giant Planets

Scott, R. K.; Polvani, Lorenzo M.

Although possibly the simplest model for the atmospheres of the giant planets, the turbulent forced-dissipative shallow-water system in spherical geometry has not, to date, been investigated; the present study aims to fill this gap. Unlike the freely decaying shallow-water system described by Cho and Polvani, equilibrium states in the forced-dissipative system are highly dependent on details of the forcing and the dissipation. For instance, it is found that for a given equilibrated energy level, the steadiness of zonal jets depends crucially on the balance between forcing and dissipation.
With long (up to 100 000 days) high-resolution (T170) calculations, the dependence of the equilibrium states on Rossby number Ro and Rossby deformation radius LD is explored, for the case when the dissipation takes the form of hypodiffusion (acting predominantly at large scales) and the random forcing at small scales is δ correlated in time. When LD is large compared to the planetary radius, zonal jets are verified to scale closely with the Rhines scale over a wide range of Ro; furthermore, the jets at the equator are found to be both prograde and retrograde with approximately equal likelihood. As LD is decreased, the equatorial jets become increasingly and consistently retrograde, in agreement with the freely decaying turbulence results. Also, the regime recently discussed by Theiss, where zonal jets are confined to low latitudes, is illustrated to emerge robustly in the limit of small LD. Finally, specific calculations with parameter values typical of the giant planets are presented, confirming many of the earlier results obtained in the freely decaying case.


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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

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