The SAO and Annual Disturbances

In Chapter 11 of the book Mathematical GeoEnergy, we model the QBO of equatorial stratospheric winds, but only touch on the related cycle at even higher altitudes, the semi-annual oscillation (SAO). The figure at the top of a recent post geometrically explains the difference between SAO and QBO — the basic idea is that the SAO follows the solar tide and not the lunar tide because of a lower atmospheric density at higher altitudes. Thus, the heat-based solar tide overrides the gravitational lunar+solar tide and the resulting oscillation is primarily a harmonic of the annual cycle.

Figure 1 : The SAO modeled with the GEM software fit to 1 hPa data along the equator
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Why couldn’t Lindzen figure out QBO?

Background: see Chapter 11 of the book.

In research articles published ~50 years ago, Richard Lindzen made these assertions:

“For oscillations of tidal periods, the nature of the forcing is clear”

Lindzen, Richard S. “Planetary waves on beta-planes.” Mon. Wea. Rev 95.7 (1967): 441-451.


5. Lunar semidiurnal tide

One rationale for studying tides is that they are motion systems for which we know the periods perfectly, and the forcing almost as well (this is certainly the case for gravitational tides). Thus, it is relatively easy to isolate tidal phenomena in the data, to calculate tidal responses in the atmosphere, and to compare the two. Briefly, conditions for comparing theory and observation are relatively ideal. Moreover, if theory is incapable of explaining observations for such a simple system, we may plausibly be concerned with our ability to explain more complicated systems.

Lunar tides are especially well suited to such studies since it is unlikely that lunar periods could be produced by anything other than the lunar tidal potential.

Lindzen, R.S. and Hong, S.S., 1974. “Effects of mean winds and horizontal temperature gradients on solar and lunar semidiurnal tides in the atmosphere“. Journal of the atmospheric sciences31(5), pp.1421-1446.
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Double-Sideband Suppressed-Carrier Modulation vs Triad

An intriguing yet under-reported finding concerning climate dipole cycles is the symmetry in power spectra observed. This was covered in a post on auto-correlations. The way that this symmetry reveals itself is easily explained by a mirror-folding about one-half some selected carrier frequency, as shown in Fig. 1 below.

Figure 1 : ENSO amplitude spectrum is mirror-folded about 1/2 the annual frequency.
Both the data and model align with their mirrored counterparts, as seen in highlighted box.
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Characterizing Wavetrains

In Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 of the book we characterize deterministic and stochastic variability in waves. While reviewing the presentations at last week’s EGU meeting, one study covered some of the same ground [1] and was worth a more detailed look. The distribution of stratospheric wind wave energy collected by Nastrom [2] (shown below) that we model in Chapter 11 is apparently still not completely understood.

From Mathematical Geoenergy, Chap 11
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EGU 2020 Notes

Notes from the EGU 2020 meeting from last week. The following list of presentation pages are those those that I have commented on, with responses from authors or from chat sessions included. What’s useful about this kind of virtual meeting is that the exchange is concrete and there’s none of the ambiguity in paraphrasing one-on-one discussions that take place at an on-site gathering.

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Length of Day II

This is a continuation from the previous Length of Day post showing how closely the ENSO forcing aligns to the dLOD forcing.

Ding & Chao apply an AR-z technique as a supplement to Fourier and Max Entropy spectral techniques to isolate the tidal factors in dLOD

The red data points are the spectral values used in the ENSO model fit.

The top panel below is the LTE modulated tidal forcing fitted against the ENSO time series. The lower panel below is the tidal forcing model over a short interval overlaid on the dLOD/dt data.

That’s all there is to it — it’s all geophysical fluid dynamics. Essentially the same tidal forcing impacts both the rotating solid earth and the equatorial ocean, but the ocean shows a lagged nonlinear response as described in Chapter 12 of the book. In contrast, the solid earth shows an apparently direct linear inertial response. Bottom line is that if one doesn’t know how to do the proper GFD, one will never be able to fit ENSO to a known forcing.

Triad Waves

In Chapter 12 of the book, we discuss tropical instability waves (TIW) of the equatorial Pacific as the higher wavenumber (and higher frequency) companion to the lower wavenumber ENSO (El Nino /Southern Oscillation) behavior. Sutherland et al have already published several papers this year that appear to add some valuable insight to the mathematical underpinnings to the fluid-mechanical relationship.

“It is estimated that globally 1 TW of power is transferred from the lunisolar tides to internal tides[1]. The action of the barotropic tide over bottom topography can generate vertically propagating beams near the source. While some fraction of that energy is dissipated in the near field (as observed, for example, near the Hawaiian Ridge [2]), most of the energy becomes manifest as low-mode internal tides in the far field where they may then propagate thousands of kilometers from the source [3]. An outstanding question asks how the energy from these waves ultimately cascades from large to small scale where it may be dissipated, thus closing this branch of the oceanic energy budget. Several possibilities have been explored, including dissipation when the internal tide interacts with rough bottom topography, with the continental slopes and shelves, and with mean flows and eddies (for a recent review, see MacKinnon et al. [4]). It has also been suggested that, away from topography and background flows, internal modes may be dissipated due to nonlinear wave-wave interactions including the case of triadic resonant instability (hereafter TRI), in which a pair of “sibling” waves grow out of the background noise field through resonant interactions with the “parent” wave”

see reference [2]
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Filtering of Climate Data

One of the frustrating aspects of climatology as a science is in the cavalier treatment of data that is often shown, and in particular through the potential loss of information through filtering. A group of scientists at NASA JPL (Perigaud et al) and elsewhere have pointed out how constraining it is to remove what are considered errors (or nuisance parameters) in time-series by assuming that they relate to known tidal or seasonal factors and so can be safely filtered out and ignored. The problem is that this is only appropriate IF those factors relate to an independent process and don’t also cause non-linear interactions with the rest of the data. So if a model predicts both a linear component and non-linear component, it’s not helpful to eliminate portions of the data that can help distinguish the two.

As an example, this extends to the pre-mature filtering of annual data. If you dig enough you will find that NINO3.4 data is filtered to remove the annual data, and that the filtering is over-zealous in that it removes all annual harmonics as well. Worse yet, the weighting of these harmonics changes over time, which means that they are removing other parts of the spectrum not related to the annual signal. Found in an “ensostuff” subdirectory on the site:

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