The atmospheric response to surface heating under maximum entropy production
Lacasce, Joseph Henry
Graff, Lise Seland
; Peer reviewed
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Institutt for geofag
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 2014, 71 (6), 2204-2220,
In numerous studies, midlatitude storm tracks have been shown to shift poleward under global warming scenarios. Among the possible causes, changes in sea surface temperature (SST) have been shown to affect both the intensity and the position of the tracks. Increased SSTs can increase both the lateral heating occurring in the tropics and the midlatitude temperature gradients, both of which increase tropospheric baroclinicity.
To better understand the response to altered SST, a simplified energy balance model (EBM) is used. This employs the principal of maximum entropy production (MEP) to determine the meridional heat fluxes in the atmosphere. The model is similar to one proposed by Paltridge (1975) but represents only the atmospheric response (the surface temperatures are fixed). The model is then compared with a full atmospheric general circulation model [Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3)].
In response to perturbed surface temperatures, EBM exhibits similar changes in (vertically integrated) air temperature, convective heat fluxes, and meridional heat transport. However, the changes in CAM3 are often more localized, particularly at low latitudes. This, in turn, results in a shift of the storm tracks in CAM3, which is largely absent in EBM. EBM is more successful, however, at representing the response to changes in high-latitude heating or cooling. Therefore, MEP is evidently a plausible representation for heat transport in the midlatitudes, but not necessarily at low latitudes.
This research was originally published in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. © 2014 American Meteorological Society
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