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Published October 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

Downstream Self-Destruction of Storm Tracks


The Northern Hemisphere storm tracks have maximum intensity over the Pacific and Atlantic basins; their intensity is reduced over the continents downstream. Here, simulations with an idealized aquaplanet general circulation model are used to demonstrate that even without continents, storm tracks have a self-determined longitudinal length scale. Their length is controlled primarily by the planetary rotation rate and is similar to that of Earth's storm tracks for Earth's rotation rate. Downstream, storm tracks self-destruct: the downstream eddy kinetic energy is lower than it would be without the zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks. Likely involved in the downstream self-destruction of storm tracks are the energy fluxes associated with them. The zonal asymmetries that cause localized storm tracks enhance the energy transport through the generation of stationary eddies, and this leads to a reduced baroclinicity that persists far downstream of the eddy kinetic energy maxima.

Additional Information

© 2011 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 18 November 2010, in final form 18 February 2011. We thank Isaac Held, Xavier Levine, and Tim Merlis for useful discussions and comments. This research was supported by the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship administered by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, by a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, and by NSF Grant AGS-1019211. The GCM is based on the Flexible Modeling System of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory; the simulations were performed on Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences Dell cluster.

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Published - Kaspi2011p16227J_Atmos_Sci.pdf


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