The macroturbulence of the troposphere

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Eddy length scales, eddy velocity scales, and the amplitude of eddy fluxes in the mid-latitude troposphere are discussed, primarily from the qualitative perspective provided by studies of quasi-geostrophic turbulence. The utility of a diffusive picture for the near surface poleward flux of heat is emphasized, as is the extent to which a full closure theory for the troposphere, including the interior potential vorticity fluxes, must revolve around this theory for the heat flux. A central problem in general circulation theory is then to determine which factors control the horizontal diffusivity near the surface. The baroclinic eddy production problem has distinctive features that make it stand out from other inhomogeneous turbulence problems such as Benard convection and laboratory shear flows, the crucial point being that there can be scale separation between the eddies and the scale of the mean flow inhomogeneity in the direction of the relevant transport. This scale separation makes diffusive closures more compelling. In addition, it allows one to compute diffusivities from models of homogeneous turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalTellus, Series B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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