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Published May 2006 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

The general circulation of the atmosphere


Theories of how Earth's surface climate may change in the future, of how it may have been in the past, and of how it is related to climates of other planets must build upon a theory of the general circulation of the atmosphere. The view of the atmospheric general circulation presented here focuses not on Earth's general circulation as such but on a continuum of idealized circulations with axisymmetric flow statistics. Analyses of observational data for Earth's atmosphere, simulations with idealized general circulation models, and theoretical considerations suggest how characteristics of the tropical Hadley circulation, of the extratropical circulation, and of atmospheric macroturbulence may depend on parameters such as the planet radius and rotation rate and the strength of the differential heating at the surface.

Additional Information

"Reprinted, with permission, from the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science, Volume 34 copyright 2006 by Annual Reviews, www.annualreviews.org" Collaborations and conversations with Isaac Held shaped my view of the general circulation and are reflected in this review. Chris Walker and Paul O'Gorman kindly provided simulation results and reanalysis data in a format that helped to produce the figures. I thank Paul O'Gorman, Olivier Pauluis, Adam Sobel, and Geoffrey Vallis for reviewing the manuscript and for offering helpful suggestions. I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Davidow Discovery Fund, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation (grant no. 0450059), and the Aspen Center for Physics, where I wrote part of this review. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation) provided computational support and the reanalysis data.

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Published - SCHNareps06.pdf

Supplemental Material - spinup_animation.qt


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