A gray-radiation aquaplanet moist GCM. Part I: Static stability and eddy scale

Dargan M.W. Frierson, Isaac M. Held, Pablo Zurita-Gotor

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In this paper, a simplified moist general circulation model is developed and used to study changes in the atmospheric general circulation as the water vapor content of the atmosphere is altered. The key elements of the model physics are gray radiative transfer, in which water vapor and other constituents have no effect on radiative fluxes, a simple diffusive boundary layer with prognostic depth, and a mixed layer aquaplanet surface boundary condition. This GCM can be integrated stably without a convection parameterization, with large-scale condensation only, and this study focuses on this simplest version of the model. These simplifications provide a useful framework in which to focus on the interplay between latent heat release and large-scale dynamics. In this paper, the authors study the role of moisture in determining the tropospheric static stability and midlatitude eddy scale. In a companion paper, the effects of moisture on energy transports by baroclinic eddies are discussed. The authors vary a parameter in the Clausius-Clapeyron r elation to control the amount of water in the atmosphere, and consider circulations ranging from the dry limit to 10 times a control value. The typical length scale of midlatitude eddies is found to be remarkably insensitive to the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in this model. The Rhines scale evaluated at the latitude of the maximum eddy kinetic energy fits the model results for the eddy scale well. Moist convection is important in determining the extratropical lapse rate, and the dry stability is significantly increased with increased moisture content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2548-2566
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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