Atmospheric Dynamics and Circulation
The large-scale circulation of the atmosphere is, perhaps, the single most important determinant of the climate system. In large part it determines the location and structure of deserts, of tropical rain forests and of the mid-latitude temperate regions, as well as the nature of the continental interiors with their extreme climates. The ozone hole is a product of the interaction of the atmospheric circulation with the chemical constituents of the atmosphere, the dispersion and distribution of pollutants and chemical species are largely determined by the atmospheric circulation, and understanding how the circulation might change in response to increasing amounts of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is one of the great challenges of the subject.
The building blocks that comprise the circulation are many and varied:
- the monsoon circulations of low latitudes,
- the waves and eddies of mid-latitudes, and
- the cyclones, fronts and severe storms that arise as by-products of these waves.
AOS researchers and faculty are engaged both in trying to understand the fundamental nature of this circulation, and in the interaction of the circulation with other components of the climate system.
A hierarchy of models, from the highly complex to the highly idealized, are used to understand and predict the behavior of this fascinating system.