Atmospheric transport and critical layer mixing in the troposphere and stratosphere
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This thesis aims to improve the understanding of transport and critical layer mixing in the troposphere and stratosphere. A dynamical approach is taken based on potential vorticity which has long been recognised as the essential field inducing the flow and thermodynamic structure of the atmosphere. Within the dynamical framework of critical layer mixing of potential vorticity, three main topics are addressed. First, an idealised model of critical layer mixing in the stratospheric surf zone is examined. The effect of the shear across the critical layer on the critical layer evolution itself is investigated. In particular it is found that at small shear barotropic instability occurs and the mixing efficiency of the critical layer increases due to the instability. The effect of finite deformation length is also considered which extends previous work. Secondly, the dynamical coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere is examined by considering the effect of direct perturbations to stratospheric potential vorticity on the evolution of midlatitude baroclinic instability. Both zonally symmetric and asymmetric perturbations to the stratospheric potential vorticity are considered, the former representative of a strong polar vortex, the latter representative of the stratospheric state following a major sudden warming. A comparison of these perturbations gives some insight into the possible influence of pre or post-sudden warming conditions on the tropospheric evolution. Finally, the influence of the stratospheric potential vorticity distribution on lateral mixing and transport into and out of the tropical pipe, the low latitude ascending branch of the Brewer-Dobson circulation, is investigated. The stratospheric potential vorticity distribution in the tropical stratosphere is found to have a clear pattern according to the phase of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). The extent of the QBO influence is quantified, by analysing trajectories of Lagrangian particles using an online trajectory code recently implemented in the Met Office's Unified Model.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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