Overtransmission of Rossby waves at a lower-layer critical latitude in the two-layer model

Matthew T. Gliatto, Isaac M. Held

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5 Scopus citations


Rossby waves, propagating from the midlatitudes toward the tropics, are typically absorbed by critical latitudes (CLs) in the upper troposphere. However, these waves typically encounter CLs in the lower troposphere first. We study a two-layer linear scattering problem to examine the effects of lower CLs on these waves. We begin with a review of the simpler barotropic case to orient the reader. We then progress to the baroclinic case using a two-layer quasigeostrophic model in which there is vertical shear in the mean flow on which the waves propagate, and in which the incident wave is assumed to be an external-mode Rossby wave. We use linearized equations and add small damping to remove the critical-latitude singularities. We consider cases in which either there is only one CL, in the lower layer, or there are CLs in both layers, with the lower-layer CL encountered first. If there is only a CL in the lower layer, the wave’s response depends on the sign of the mean potential vorticity gradient at this lower-layer CL: if the PV gradient is positive, then the CL partially absorbs the wave, as in the barotropic case, while for a negative PV gradient, the CL is a wave emitter, and can potentially produce overreflection and/or overtransmission. Our numerical results indicate that overtransmission is by far the dominant response in these cases. When an upper-layer absorbing CL is encountered, following the lower-layer encounter, one can still see the signature of overtransmission at the lower-layer CL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-870
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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