Wave-mean-flow interactions in moist baroclinic life cycles

Ray Yamada, Olivier Pauluis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies show that the moist Eliassen-Palm (EP) flux captures a greater eddy momentum exchange through form drag than the dry EP flux in the midlatitude climate. This suggests that the eddy moisture flux acts to decrease the baroclinicity of the zonal jet. This study investigates such a mechanism in moist baroclinic life cycles, which are simulated in an idealized general circulation model with large-scale condensation as the only moist process. The runs are analyzed using a linear diagnostic based on the Kuo-Eliassen equation to decompose the jet change into parts driven by individual forcing terms. It is shown that the wave-induced latent heating drives an indirect Eulerian-mean cell on the equatorward flank of the jet, which acts to reduce the baroclinicity in that region. The eddy sensible heat fluxes act to reduce the baroclinicity near the center of the jet. The moist baroclinic forcing strengthens as the amount of initially available moisture increases. The effect of the eddy moisture flux on the transformed Eulerian-mean (TEM) and isentropic dynamics is also considered. It is shown that the circulation and EP flux on moist isentropes is around 4 times as strong and extends farther equatorward than on dry isentropes. The equatorward extension of the moist EP flux coincides with the region where the baroclinic forcing is driven by latent heating. The moist EP flux successfully captures the moisture-driven component of the baroclinic forcing that is not seen in the dry EP flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2143-2162
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Extratropical cyclones
  • Instability
  • Isentropic analysis
  • Latent heating/cooling
  • Momentum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Wave-mean-flow interactions in moist baroclinic life cycles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this