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Tropical Climate Dynamics



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Tropical Climate Dynamics

Peter John Webster

ISBN: 978-0-470-66256-4 February 2020 Wiley-Blackwell 600 Pages

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This book presents a unique and comprehensive view of the fundamental dynamical and thermodynamic principles underlying the large circulations of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system

Dynamics of The Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans provides a detailed description of macroscale tropical circulation systems such as the monsoon, the Hadley and Walker Circulations, El Niño, and the tropical ocean warm pool. These macroscale circulations interact with a myriad of higher frequency systems, ranging from convective cloud systems to migrating equatorial waves that attend the low-frequency background flow. Towards understanding and predicting these circulation systems.

A comprehensive overview of the dynamics and thermodynamics of large-scale tropical atmosphere and oceans is presented using both a “reductionist” and “holistic” perspectives of the coupled tropical system. The reductionist perspective provides a detailed description of the individual elements of the ocean and atmospheric circulations. The physical nature of each component of the tropical circulation such as the Hadley and Walker circulations, the monsoon, the incursion of extratropical phenomena into the tropics, precipitation distributions, equatorial waves and disturbances described in detail. The holistic perspective provides a physical description of how the collection of the individual components produces the observed tropical weather and climate. How the collective tropical processes determine the tropical circulation and their role in global weather and climate is provided in a series of overlapping theoretical and modelling constructs.

The structure of the book follows a graduated framework. Following a detailed description of tropical phenomenology, the reader is introduced to dynamical and thermodynamical constraints that guide the planetary climate and establish a critical role for the tropics. Equatorial wave theory is developed for simple and complex background flows, including the critical role played by moist processes. The manner in which the tropics and the extratropics interact is then described, followed by a discussion of the physics behind the subtropical and near-equatorial precipitation including arid regions. The El Niño phenomena and the monsoon circulations are discussed, including their covariance and predictability. Finally, the changing structure of the tropics is discussed in terms of the extent of the tropical ocean warm pool and its relationship to the intensity of global convection and climate change.

Dynamics of the Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans is aimed at advanced undergraduate and early career graduate students. It also serves as an excellent general reference book for scientists interested in tropical circulations and their relationship with the broader climate system.


List of Symbols and Abbreviations


1. Climatology of the Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans

2. Hydrological and Heat Exchange Processes

3. Fundamental Dynamical Processes

4. Kinematics and Tropical Waves

5. Simple Models of the Tropics

6. Equatorial Waves in Simple Basic States

7. Waves in a Longitudinally and Vertically Varying Basic State

8. Moist Processes and Large-Scale Tropical Dynamics

9. Extratropical Influence on the Tropics

10. Tropical Influence on Extratropics: A Zonally Averaged Perspective

11. A Tropical–Extratropical Synergy

12. Dynamics of Arid and Desert Climates

13. Near-Equatorial Precipitation

14. Large-Scale, Low-Frequency Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Systems

15. Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Tropical Atmosphere

16. Dynamics of the Large-Scale Monsoons

17. The Coupled Monsoon System

18. The Changing Tropics

19. Some Concluding Remarks




Appendix A: Thermal Wind Considerations

Appendix B: Stoke’s Theorem

Appendix C: Dry and Moist Thermodynamical Stability

Appendix D: Derivation of the Wave Equation (5.11)

Appendix E: Conservation of Potential Vorticity of a Shallow Water System

Appendix F: Solutions to the Vertical Structure Equation for a Constant Lapse Rate

Appendix G: Nonlinear Numerical Model

Appendix H: Derivation of the Potential Vorticity Equation on an Extratropical β-plane

Appendix I: Derivation of the Barotropic Potential Vorticity Equation (11.35) with Friction and Heating

Appendix J: Steady State Model in the Tropics

Appendix K: Intermediate Ocean Model