Westward-propagating rossby modes in idealized GCMs


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This work investigates the characteristics of westward-propagating Rossby modes in idealized global general circulation models. Using a nonlinear smoothing algorithm to estimate the background spectrum and an objective method to extract the spectral peaks, the four leading meridional modes can be identified for each of the first three zonal wavenumbers, with frequencies close to the predictions from the Hough modes obtained by linearizing about a state of rest. Variations in peak amplitude for different modes, both within a simulation and across simulations, may be understood under the assumption that the forcing of the modes scales with the background spectrum. Surface friction affects the amplitude and width of the peaks but both remain finite as friction goes to zero, which implies that some other mechanism, arguably nonlinear, must also contribute to the damping of the modes. Although spectral peaks are also observed for the precipitation field with idealized moist physics, there is no evidence of mode enhancement by the convective heating. Subject to the same friction, the amplitude of the peaks are very similar in the dry and moist models when both are normalized by the background spectra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1503-1522
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Dynamics
  • Idealized models
  • Internal variability
  • Rossby waves
  • Spectral analysis/models/distribution


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