998 Bottom-Up Causation and Cross-Scale Information Flow in a Stormy Model Midlatitude Atmospehre

Wednesday, 15 January 2020
Hall B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
X. San Liang, Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, Nanjing, China

A fundamental problem regarding the storm–jet stream interaction in the extratropical atmosphere is how energy and information are exchanged between scales. While energy transfer has been extensively investigated, the latter has been mostly overlooked, mainly due to a lack of appropriate theory and methodology. Using a recently established rigorous formalism of information flow, this study attempts to examine the problem in the setting of a three-dimensional quasi-geostrophic zonal jet, with storms excited by a set of optimal perturbation modes. We choose for this study a period when the self-sustained oscillation is in quasi-equilibrium, and when the energetics mimick the mid-latitude atmospheric circulation where available potential energy is cascaded downward to smaller scales, and kinetic energy is inversely transferred upward toward larger scales. By inverting a three-dimensional elliptic differential operator, the model is first converted into a low-dimensional dynamical system, where the components correspond to different time scales. The information exchange between the scales is then computed through ensemble prediction. For this particular problem, the resulting cross-scale information flow is mostly from smaller scales to larger scales. That is to say, during this period, this model extratropical atmosphere is dominated by a bottom-up causation, as collective patterns emerge out of independent entities and macroscopic thermodynamic properties evolve from random molecular motions. This study makes a first step toward an important field in understanding the eddy–mean flow interaction in weather and climate phenomena such as atmospheric blocking, storm track, North Atlantic Oscillation, to name a few.

Keywords: causality; information flow; multiscale interaction; self-organization; storm; atmospheric jet stream; weather and climate patterns

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