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TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology and Large-Scale Circulations.

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Presentation on theme: "TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology and Large-Scale Circulations."— Presentation transcript:

1 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology and Large-Scale Circulations

2 TropicalM. D. Eastin Outline Climatology Radiation Land / Ocean Temperature Winds Moisture Clouds and Precipitation Large-Scale Circulations Hadley Cell Walker Circulation

3 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Outgoing Longwave Radiation OLR Incoming Shortwave Radiation Sun Earth The need for radiation balance:

4 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology

5 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology The need for radiation balance: Keep the global temperature constant (The earth acts like a black body) The primary role of weather is to redistribute the solar energy (heating) such that the Earth can most effectively re-radiate the energy back to space Annual Mean Solar Radiation Observed at Surface (W m -2 )

6 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Land / Ocean Forcing: Land Major elevation features deflect air over (clouds and precipitation) and around (cyclonic / anticyclonic flow) Differences in elevation create thermal gradients due to surface heating (e.g. Indian Monsoon) Ocean Oceans are a heat and moisture reservoir that the atmosphere “taps” (ocean has a large heat capacity) Differential solar heating leads to thermal gradients and ocean currents Land-Ocean Large heat / moisture gradients often help force atmospheric circulations (nor-easterlies and land-sea breezes) Sea-Surface Temperatures (C)

7 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Air Temperature (C): Near-surface air temperatures are dominated by surface type (e.g. desert, snow, mountains, water) and cloud cover Weak temperature gradients within the Tropics Strong temperature gradients between the Tropics and Polar JUL JAN

8 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Air Temperature (C): Tropical tropopause is much higher than its extra-tropical counterpart (caused by deep convection of ITCZ) In general, the mean Tropics are more unstable than the extra-tropics Temperature maximum in NH summer is located at 20º-30ºN (Continent effects) Maximum temperature gradient is NH is farther north during their summer JAN JUL Meridional Cross Sections: Constructed from zonal means (averages around latitude circles) longitude variable in question (e.g. temperature) zonal mean

9 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology JULJAN JULJAN 200 mb 850 mb 200 mb

10 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Zonal (east-west) Wind (m/s): Jet Streams are maximum in the winter when the N-S temperature gradients are strongest Southern Hemisphere has two jets in the winter (in troposphere and stratosphere) due to the lack of land in SH and a very cold Antarctic Easterlies slope from a low-level maximum in the winter hemisphere to an upper-level maximum in summer hemisphere - related to ITCZ and the Hadley Cell Weak westerlies evident at 10N in the mean zonal wind - Why? JAN JUL E E W W WW

11 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Meridional (north-south) Wind (m/s): Much weaker than zonal wind Dominated by Hadley Cell circulation Strongest upper-level winds associated with flow toward the jet maximum Strongest low-level winds are a result of mass balance and Indian Monsoon JAN JUL

12 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Vertical Wind (mb/s): Two orders of magnitude smaller than either zonal or meridional wind (strong motions confined to small scales) Dominated by Hadley Cell circulation Upward motion indicates the zonal mean location of the ITCZ convection Sinking motion indicates the zonal mean locations of the clear, dry subtropical highs (most deserts located here) Double upward maxima are related to N-S shift of ITCZ over land masses Low-level maxima in NH near 30º-40ºN related to Indian Monsoonal flow JAN JUL

13 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Moisture : Total Precipitable Water (mm) Tropical maxima follows the ITCZ as it moves N-S (land and water) Minima associated with subtropical highs, mountain ranges, deserts, and polar regions Double ITCZ in January is the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) associated with subtropical jet ITCZ tends to cross equator toward summer hemisphere JUL JAN

14 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Moisture: Relative Humidity (%) Maxima near the surface (ocean source) Maxima associated with ascent (ITCZ) in the Hadley cell Minima associated with descent in the Hadley cells (subtropical highs) JAN JUL D W D W D D

15 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology Precipitation (mm/day): Tropical maxima follows the ITCZ as it moves N-S (land and water) Local maxima associated with ascent over major mountain ranges Minima associated with subtropical highs and polar regions Local minima associated with descent beyond major mountain ranges Double ITCZ in January is the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) associated with subtropical jet JUL JAN

16 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Hadley Circulation: Zonally symmetric over-turning circulation that dominates (~defines) the Tropics Ascent near the equator is thermally driven by solar heating maximum and latent heat release (which is partially balanced by adiabatic cooling) Ascent is not a a uniform band but rather multiple localized “hot towers” (embedded within the ITCZ) that are more efficient at transporting the heat aloft Forced divergence at the stable tropopause leads to poleward flow, which via Coriolis, turns into westerly flow (i.e. jet streams) Descent is thermally driven by radiative cooling (which is partially balanced by adiabatic warming) The near-surface equatorward (or return) flow is, via Coriolis, turned into easterly flow (i.e. trade winds) and converges more heat and moisture toward ITCZ Migrates north and south following the Sun

17 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Hadley Circulation: North-south extension is a function of Earth’s rotation rate (i.e. Coriolis force) Earth: One rotation in 24 hours 6 zonal bands Jupiter: One rotation in 10 hours 12 zonal bands

18 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Hadley Circulation: North-south extension is a function of Earth’s rotation rate (i.e. Coriolis force) Saturn: One rotation in 11 hours 10 zonal bands Venus: One rotation in 243 days 2 zonal bands

19 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Hadley Circulation: An Exercise How long does it take a parcel to complete one full circulation? How many revolutions of the Earth does the parcel complete in this time? Assumptions: Parcel begins at 0°N, 0°W, at the surface Troposphere is 15 km deep Earth’s circumference is 40,000 km Cell extends 3,000 km to the north Parcel rises rapidly through an ITCZ thunderstorm at 15 m/s Other motions follow climatological mean winds

20 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Walker Circulation: Zonally asymmetric over-turning that strongly influences zonal flow near the equator Thermally-direct circulations forced by E-W gradients in SST induced by wind-driven ocean currents and the global land configuration (one in each equatorial ocean) Ascent occurs over regions of warmer SSTs and decent is a result of radiative cooling Linked to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Impacts Atlantic Tropical Cyclones The dominant Pacific component of the Walker Circulation

21 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Large-Scale Circulations Walker Circulation: Pacific component shifts east during El Nino events Descent occurs in western Pacific Pacific component is still stronger than the Atlantic, and thus tends to increase westerly winds aloft and descent over the Atlantic ocean, which promotes increased vertical shear and less convection, which leads to less Atlantic TCs El Nino Normal or La Nina

22 TropicalM. D. Eastin The Tropics: Climatology and Large-Scale Circulations Summary: Need for radiation (energy) balance Land /Ocean forcing (heat and moisture sources) Horizontal, Vertical, and Seasonal Variations of temperature, winds, moisture, and precipitation Hadley Circulation (forcing and seasonality) Walker Circulation (forcing and impacts)

23 TropicalM. D. Eastin References Climate Diagnostic Center’s (CDCs) Interactive Plotting and Analysis Webage ( )http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/PublicData/getpage.pl Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-year Reanalysis Project. Bull Amer Met. Soc., 77,


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