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Relative Intensity of the Pacific and Atlantic Storm Tracks in a Maximally Simplified Model Setting

Mankin Mak

Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA [email protected] uiuc. edu

The climatological winter Atlantic storm track is distinctly more intense (by about 10%) than the Pacific storm track even though the Atlantic jet is about 30% weaker than the Pacific jet. It is hypothesized that this counterintuitive feature is partly attributable to having statistically stronger seeding disturbances upstream of the Atlantic jet. The difference in the seeding disturbances may stem from the geographical distribution of continents and oceans in the northern hemisphere, especially when differential friction over land versus water surfaces is taken into consideration. This hypothesis is shown to be valid even in the context of a barotropic model. The proxy forcing in the model is introduced in the form of relaxation of the instantaneous flow toward a reference flow, which has two localized jets broadly resembling the winter Pacific and Atlantic jets. A linear modal instability analysis of these jets is first presented. The nonlinear model Atlantic storm track is found to be more intense than its counterpart over the Pacific. The difference in the relative intensity of the two model storm tracks becomes more pronounced when the drag coefficient over the land sectors is several times larger than that over the ocean sectors. These results may be taken as evidence in support of the hypothesis.

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