10 May 2022
10 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WCD.

The global atmospheric energy transport analysed by a wavelength-based scale separation

Patrick Johannes Stoll1 and Rune Grand Graversen1,2 Patrick Johannes Stoll and Rune Grand Graversen
  • 1Department of Physics and Technology, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norway

Abstract. The global atmospheric circulation is fundamental for the local weather and climate by redistributing energy and moisture. To the present day, there is a knowledge gap at which spatial scales the energy and its components are transported. Therefore, we separate the meridional atmospheric energy transport in the ERA5 reanalysis by the spatial scales, the quasi-stationary and transient flow patterns, and the latent and dry-static component. We focus on the annual and seasonal mean in the transport components as well as their inter-annual variability. Motivated by similarities across latitudes in the atmospheric transport spectra when displayed as function of wavelength, we refine the existing scale separation method to be based on wavelength instead of wavenumber.

This reveals advantageous, as the following conclusions can be drawn, which are fairly similar in the two hemispheres. Transport by synoptic waves, defined at wavelengths between 2,000 and 8,000 km, is the largest contributor to extra-tropical energy and moisture transport, is mainly of transient character, and is little influenced by seasonality. In contrast, the transport by planetary waves, larger than 8,000 km, highly depends on the season and has two distinct characteristics. (1) In the extra-tropical winter, planetary waves are of major importance due to transport of dry-static energy. This planetary transport feature the largest inter-annual variability, and is mainly quasi-stationary in the Northern Hemisphere, but transient in its southern counterpart. (2) In the subtropical summer, quasi-stationary planetary waves are the most important transport component mainly due to advection of moisture, which is associated with monsoons. In contrast to transport by planetary and synoptic waves, only a negligible amount of energy is transported by mesoscale eddies (< 2, 000 km).

Patrick Johannes Stoll and Rune Grand Graversen

Status: open (until 23 Jun 2022)

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Patrick Johannes Stoll and Rune Grand Graversen

Patrick Johannes Stoll and Rune Grand Graversen


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Short summary
The atmosphere is in motion and hereby transporting warm, cold, moist and dry air to different climate zones. In this study, we investigate how this transport of energy organises in different manners. Outside the tropics, atmospheric waves of sizes between 2,000 and 8,000 km, which we perceive as cyclones from the surface, transport most of the energy and moisture poleward. In the winter, large-scale weather situations become of high importance for transporting energy into the polar regions.