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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 EART164: PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES Francis Nimmo

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Next 2 Weeks – Dynamics Mostly focused on large-scale, long-term patterns of motion in the atmosphere What drives them? What do they tell us about conditions within the atmosphere? Three main topics: –Steady flows (winds) –Boundary layers and turbulence –Waves See Taylor chapter 8 Wallace & Hobbs, 2006, chapter 7 also useful Many of my derivations are going to be simplified!

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Key Concepts Hadley cell, zonal & meridional circulation Coriolis effect, Rossby number, deformation radius Thermal tides Geostrophic and cyclostrophic balance, gradient winds Thermal winds

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 2. Turbulence

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Turbulence What is it? Energy, velocity and lengthscale Boundary layers Whether a flow is turbulent or not depends largely on the viscosity Kinematic viscosity (m 2 s -1 ) Dynamic viscosity (Pa s) Gas dynamic viscosity ~10 -5 Pa s Independent of density, but it does depend a bit on T

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Reynolds number To determine whether a flow is turbulent, we calculate the dimensionless Reynolds number Here u is a characteristic velocity, L is a characteristic length scale For Re in excess of about 10 3, flow is turbulent E.g. Earth atmosphere u~1 m/s, L~1 km (boundary layer), ~10 -5 m 2 /s so Re~10 8 i.e. strongly turbulent

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Energy cascade (Kolmogorov) Approximate analysis (~) In steady state, is constant Turbulent kinetic energy (per kg): E l ~ u l 2 Turnover time: t l ~l /u l Dissipation rate ~E l /t l So u l ~( l) 1/3 (very useful!) At what length does viscous dissipation start to matter? Energy in ( , W kg -1 ) Energy viscously dissipated ( , W kg -1 ) u l, E l l

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Kinetic energy and lengthscale We can rewrite the expression on the previous page to derive This prediction agrees with experiments:

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Turbulent boundary layer We can think of flow near a boundary as consisting of a steady part and a turbulent part superimposed Turbulence causes velocity fluctuations u’~ w’ + z u’, w’ Vertical gradient in steady horizontal velocity is due to vertical momentum transfer This momentum transfer is due to some combination of viscous shear and turbulence In steady state, the vertical momentum flux is constant (on average) Away from the boundary, the vertical momentum flux is controlled by w’. So w’ is ~ constant.

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Boundary Layer (cont’d) z A common assumption for turbulence (Prandtl) is that But we just argued that w’ was constant (indep. of z) So we end up with This is observed experimentally Note that there are really two boundary layers Note log-linear plot! viscous turbulent

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 3. Waves

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Atmospheric Oscillations Colder Warmer Altitude Temperature Actual Lapse Rate Adiabatic Lapse Rate z0z0 Air parcel NB is the Brunt-Vaisala frequency E.g. Earth (dT/dz) a =-10 K/km, dT/dz=-6K/km (say), T=300 K, NB =0.01s -1 so period ~10 mins

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Gravity Waves Common where there’s topography Assume that the wavelength is set by the topography So the velocity z Neutral buoyancy Cooling & condensation u You also get gravity waves propagating upwards:

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Gravity Waves Venus Mars What is happening here?

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Overcoming topography What flow speed is needed to propagate over a mountain? u z (from before) So we end up with: The Sierras are 5 km high, NB ~0.01s -1, so wind speeds need to exceed 50 ms -1 (110 mph!)

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Rossby (Planetary) Waves A result of the Coriolis acceleration 2 x u Easiest to see how they work near the equator: y equator u Magnitude of acceleration ~ -2 u y/R (why?) So acceleration – displacement (so what?) This implies wavelength What happens if the velocity is westwards?

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Kelvin Waves Gravity waves in zonal direction u H x Let’s assume that disturbance propagates a distance L polewards until polewards pressure gradient balances Coriolis acceleration (simpler than Taylor’s approach) Assuming the relevant velocity is that of the wave, we get (Same as for Rossby !)

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Baroclinic Eddies Nadiga & Aurnou 2008 Important at mid- to high latitudes

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Baroclinic Instability low high warm cold Lower potential energy z Horizontal temperature gradients have potential energy associated with them The baroclinic instability converts this PE to kinetic energy associated with baroclinic eddies The instability occurs for wavelengths > crit : Where does this come from? Does it make any sense? Not obvious why it is omega and not wave frequency

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Mixing Length Theory We previously calculated the radiative heat flux through atmospheres It would be nice to calculate the convective heat flux Doing so properly is difficult, but an approximate theory (called mixing length theory) works OK We start by considering a rising packet of gas: If the gas doesn’t cool as fast as its surroundings, it will continue to rise This leads to convection

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 T z blob background (adiabat) zz TT So for convection to occur, the temperature gradient must be (very slightly) “super-adiabatic” Note that this means a less negative gradient! The amount of heat per unit volume carried by the blob is given by Note the similarity to the Brunt-Vaisala formula The heat flux is then given by v

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 So we need the velocity v and length-scale z Mixing-length theory gives approximate answers: –The length-scale z ~ H, with H the scale height –The velocity is roughly v ~ H , is the B-V frequency So we end up with: Does this equation make sense? So we can calculate the convective temperature structure given a heat flux (or vice versa)

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F.Nimmo EART164 Spring 11 Key Concepts Reynolds number, turbulent vs. laminar flow Velocity fluctuations, Kolmogorov cascade Brunt-Vaisala frequency, gravity waves Rossby waves, Kelvin waves, baroclinic instability Mixing-length theory, convective heat transport u l ~( l) 1/3

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