Exploring the role of eddy momentum fluxes in determining the characteristics of the equinoctial Hadley circulation: Fixed-SST simulations

Martin S Singh, Zhiming Kuang

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of eddy momentum fluxes on the equinoctial Hadley circulation is explored using idealized simulations on an equatorial beta plane in which the sea surface temperature (SST) distribution is fixed. By comparing simulations run in a wide-domain configuration, in which large-scale eddies are present, to simulations in which the model domain is too narrow to permit baroclinic instability, the role of large-scale eddies in determining the characteristics of the Hadley circulation is elucidated. The simulations also include an explicit representation of deep convection, allowing for an evaluation of the influence of convective momentum transport on the zonal-mean circulation. The simulated eddy momentum fluxes are much weaker in the narrow-domain configuration than in the wide-domain case, and convective momentum transport is found to be of secondary importance. As a result, many characteristics of the narrow-domain Hadley circulation are well described by axisymmetric theory and differ from those of the wide-domain case. Nevertheless, the strength of the Hadley circulation is similar irrespective of the domain width. The sensitivity of this result to the strength of the eddy forcing is investigated using narrow-domain simulations forced by artificial sinks of zonal momentum. As the magnitude of the momentum sink increases, the Hadley circulation strengthens, but the increase is relatively modest except at very strong forcing magnitudes. The results suggest that the fixed-SST boundary condition places a strong thermodynamic constraint on the Hadley circulation strength and that one should consider the energy budget as well as the angular momentum budget in order to fully understand the influence of large-scale eddies on the zonal-mean circulation in the tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2427-2444
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Circulation/Dynamics
  • Dynamics
  • Hadley circulation
  • Large-scale motions
  • Momentum

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