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Published May 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Regime Transitions of Steady and Time-Dependent Hadley Circulations: Comparison of Axisymmetric and Eddy-Permitting Simulations


Steady-state and time-dependent Hadley circulations are investigated with an idealized dry GCM, in which thermal forcing is represented as relaxation of temperatures toward a radiative-equilibrium state. The latitude ϕ_0 of maximum radiative-equilibrium temperature is progressively displaced off the equator or varied in time to study how the Hadley circulation responds to seasonally varying forcing; axisymmetric simulations are compared with eddy-permitting simulations. In axisymmetric steady-state simulations, the Hadley circulations for all ϕ_0 approach the nearly inviscid, angular-momentum-conserving limit, despite the presence of finite vertical diffusion of momentum and dry static energy. In contrast, in corresponding eddy-permitting simulations, the Hadley circulations undergo a regime transition as ϕ_0 is increased, from an equinox regime (small ϕ_0) in which eddy momentumfluxes strongly influence both Hadley cells to a solstice regime (large ϕ_0) in which the cross-equatorial winter Hadley cell more closely approaches the angular-momentum-conserving limit. In axisymmetric time-dependent simulations, the Hadley cells undergo transitions between a linear equinox regime and a nonlinear, nearly angular-momentum-conserving solstice regime. Unlike in the eddypermitting simulations, time tendencies of the zonal wind play a role in the dynamics of the transitions in the axisymmetric simulation. Nonetheless, the axisymmetric transitions are similar to those in the eddypermitting simulations in that the role of the nonlinear mean momentum flux divergence in the zonal momentum budget shifts from marginal in the equinox regime to dominant in the solstice regime. As in the eddy-permitting simulations, a mean-flow feedback—involving the upper-level zonal winds, the lower-level temperature gradient, and the poleward boundary of the cross-equatorial Hadley cell—makes it possible for the circulation fields to change at the transition more rapidly than can be explained by the steady-state response to the thermal forcing. However, the regime transitions in the axisymmetric simulations are less sharp than those in the eddy-permitting simulations because eddy–mean flow feedbacks in the eddy-permitting simulations additionally sharpen the transitions.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Meteorological Society. Received: August 24, 2009; Accepted: November 25, 2009. SB was supported by NCAR's Advanced Study Program. We are grateful for support by a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship. The simulations were carried out on Caltech's Geological and Planetary Sciences Dell cluster. We thank Rich Rotunno, Mitch Moncrieff, Rodrigo Caballero, and an anonymous reviewer for thoughtful comments on the manuscript.

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