Redistribution of meridional atmospheric energy transport caused by polar amplification on an aqua planet

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Title: Redistribution of meridional atmospheric energy transport caused by polar amplification on an aqua planet
Author: Mahó, Sándor István
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This thesis analyses the alterations of vertically integrated atmospheric meridional energy transport due to polar amplification on an aqua planet. We analyse the energy transport of sensible heat, latent energy, potential energy and kinetic energy. We also cover the energy flux of the mean meridional circulation, transient eddies and stationary eddies. In addition, we also address the response of the zonal mean air temperature, zonal mean zonal wind, zonal mean meridional wind, zonal mean stream function and zonal mean specific humidity. Numerical model experiments were carried out with OpenIFS in its aqua planet configuration. A control (CTRL) and a polar amplification (PA) simulation was set up forced by different SST (sea surface temperature) patterns. We detected tropospheric warming and atmospheric specific humidity increase 15-90° N/S and reduction of the meridional temperature gradient throughout the troposphere. We also found reduced strength of the subtropical jet stream and slowdown of the mean meridional circulation. Important changes were identified in the Hadley cell: the rising branch shifted poleward and caused reduced lifting in equatorial areas. Regarding the total atmospheric vertically integrated meridional energy transport, we found reduction in case of the mean meridional circulation and transient eddies in all latitudes. The largest reduction was shown by the Hadley cell transport (-15%) and by midlatitude transient eddy flux (-23%). Unlike most studies, we did not observe that meridional latent energy transport increases by polar amplification. Therefore, it is stated that the increased moisture content of the atmosphere does not imply increased meridional latent energy transport, and hence there is no compensation for the decrease of meridional dry static energy transport. Lastly, we did not detect stationary eddies in our simulations which is caused by the simplified surface boundary (i.e. the water-covered Earth surface). The main finding of this thesis is that polar amplification causes decreasing poleward energy transport on an aqua planet.
Subject: polar amplification
meridional energy transport
aqua planet simulations

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