A cascade-type global energy conversion diagram based on wave-mean flow interactions

Sachiyo Uno, Toshiki Iwasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


A cascade-type energy conversion diagram is proposed for the purpose of diagnosing the atmospheric general circulation based on wave-mean flow interactions. Mass-weighted isentropic zonal means facilitate the expression of nongeostrophic wave effects, conservation properties, and lower boundary conditions. To gain physical insights into energetics based on the nonacceleration theorem, the wave energy W is defined as the sum of the eddy available potential energy PE and the eddy kinetic energy KE. The mainstream of the energy cascade is as follows: The diabatic heating produces the zonal mean available potential energy PZ, which is converted into the zonal mean kinetic energy KZ through the mean meridional circulation. The KZ is mainly converted to W through zonal wave-mean flow interactions and the rest is dissipated through friction. Not only the dynamical conversion but also the diabatic heating generates W, which is dissipated through friction. A diagnosis package is designed to analyze actual atmospheric data on the standard pressure surfaces. A validation study of the package is made by using the output from a general circulation model. The scheme accurately expresses tendencies of the zonal mean and eddy available potential energy equations, showing the diagnosis capability. On shorter time scales. PE changes in accordance with KE, good correlation indicating the relevance of the definition of wave energy. A preliminary study is made of the climate in December-February (DJF), and June-August (JJA), using the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis. The dynamical wave energy generation rate C(KZ, W) is about 60% of the conversion rate C(PZ, KZ) which means that KZ is dissipated through friction at a rate of about 40%. In the extratropics, C(KZ, W) is almost equal to C(PZ, KZ), as is expected from quasigeostrophic balance. In the suhtropics, however, C(KZ, W) is much smaller than C(PZ, KZ), which suggests the importance of nongeostrophic effects on the energetics. The energetics is substantially different between the two solstices. Both C(PZ, KZ) and C(KZ, W) are about 30% larger in DJF than those in JJA, reflecting differences in wave activity. Stationary waves contribute considerably to energy conversions in the Northern Hemispheric winter, while baroclinic instability waves do more in the Southern Hemispheric winter than in the Northern Hemispheric winter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3277-3295
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A cascade-type global energy conversion diagram based on wave-mean flow interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this