Study Guide (lecture #1)


Jargon: geostrophic balance, hypsometric equation, zonal mean, eddies; stationary pattern, transient, Hadley cell, Ferrel cell, baroclinic instability

Chapter 1:

Introductory questions: What is, What causes the general circulation?

Note: a better definition than in the book would be:

"All those atmospheric processes sufficient to provide an explanation for observed large scale ( >1000 km) circulations that persist for a season or longer."

Balances & Physical Reasoning

  1. radiation & temperature (T)
  2. pressure & geopotential (Z)
  3. winds
  4. mass balance
  5. surface torques

Anticipating the circulation from 8 constraints: (some physical, two empirical)

Can we anticipate what the general circulation might be?

Hypothetical "Candidate" circulations:

  1. must transport heat poleward
  2. must conserve mass
  3. have westerlies, especially in middle latitudes
  4. have westerly vertical shear, especially in middle latitudes
  5. have meridional motions generate westerly accelerations (ang.momentum cons.)
  6. have equal (torques from) surface easterlies and westerlies
  7. incorporate baroclinic eddies if the vertical shear is "strong enough"
  8. have tropical and midlatitude maxima in precipitation (vertical motion)

Various Examples can be proposed.