Climate response of linear and quadratic functionals using the fluctuation-dissipation theorem

Andrey Gritsun, Grant Branstator, Andrew Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A generalization of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem (FDT) that allows generation of linear response operators that estimate the response of functionals of system state variables is tested for a system defined by an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). A sketch of the proof of this generalization is provided, followed by comparison of response estimates based on the theory and actual responses of the AGCM for various idealized anomalous equatorial heat sources. Tested response quantities include precipitation, variances of bandpass and low-pass streamfunction, and momentum and heat fluxes. The solutions from the FDT operators are very similar to the AGCM solutions in terms of structure while overestimating response amplitudes by about 20%. As an example of an application of such response operators, the FDT operator that estimates the response of bandpass upper-tropospheric streamfunction variance is used to find the most efficient means of disturbing the Atlantic storm tracks by tropical heating. The results of the study suggest that the generalized FDT is an attractive method for systematically studying response attributes of the climate system that are of interest to climate scientists and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2824-2841
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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