104 The Sensitivity of the Global Moist Isentropic Circulation and the Response to Surface Perturbations in an Idealized Moist Model

Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Salon A-E (Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront)
Robert Fajber, Unversity of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; and P. J. Kushner and F. B. Laliberte

Since many of the processes in the midlatitude atmosphere are approximately moist adiabatic, zonally averaging using a moist isentropic coordinate reveals the global overturning circulation, composed of a global warm, moist poleward branch and a global cold, equatorward branch. This streamfunction gives insight into the thermodynamic cycles embedded within the general circulation; understanding its sensitivity to circulation perturbations could give some intuition into the nature of combined fluid dynamical and thermodynamical changes in the atmosphere.

Insight into the sensitivity of the global moist isentropic streamfunction can be gained by using the statistical transformed Eulerian mean (STEM) circulation to parameterize the streamfunction in terms of zonally averaged second order statistics. Since the STEM has a relatively simple functional form, we can calculate the sensitivity of the STEM by calculating functional derivatives that give the first order changes to the global moist isentropic streamfunction to perturbations in the circulation statistics.

These functional derivatives are interpreted in the relatively simple context of midlatitude surface perturbations in an idealised moist model which incorporates the latent heating of water vapor but not its radiative effects. These experiments show that the zonal mean thermodynamic response to surface heating raises the streamfunction onto higher isentropes near the surface anomaly, but that changes in the eddy covariance are responsible for shifting the circulation maximum poleward. These changes are interpreted in terms of the functional derivatives, demonstrating how the functional derivatives of the STEM conveniently reveal the background sensitivity of the moist isentropic circulation to perturbations.

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