Climate Seminar Series: Zhang

Mon, Feb 10, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Guyot 220
All Welcome

What is a zeroth-order picture of the tropical atmosphere? Isaac Held once wrote in his blog: “My picture of the tropics is that of a circus tent (the temperature in the tropical upper troposphere) held up by poles (deep tropical convection) of different heights…”  

Here we show that if the “heights” of the “poles” are interpreted as the subcloud moist static energy (a linear function of temperature, humidity, and height), this conceptual picture depicts the observed climate with surprising accuracy.

Inspired by this conceptual picture, simple theories are constructed to provide insight to two key questions for the Earth’s tropics, i.e., why rainfall is distributed more unevenly in space with warming, and how serious the regional extreme heat stress will become in a warmer world.