The diurnal cycle and the meridional extent of the tropics

Paul A. Milewski, Esteban G. Tabak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An explanation is proposed for the meridional extent of the Hadley cells: the diurnal waves forced by solar heating trapped between -30°and 30°. These baroclinic waves, we propose, give rise to the daily nature of tropical meteorology, and ultimately to the intensified mixing and circulation associated with the Hadley cells and the shape of the tropopause. This conceptual explanation is validated with basic scaling arguments and with two diurnally forced one-layer models: One linear and the other nonlinear, the latter with a simple closure for mixing and entrainment by breaking waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2011


  • Breaking waves
  • Diurnal cycle
  • Equatorial waves
  • Hadley cell
  • Inertia-gravity waves
  • Tropopause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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