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The Global Atmospheric Circulation on Moist Isentropes

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Science  22 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5892, pp. 1075-1078
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159649

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Abstract

The global atmospheric circulation transports energy from the equatorial regions to higher latitudes through a poleward flow of high-energy and -entropy parcels and an equatorward flow of air with lower energy and entropy content. Because of its turbulent nature, this circulation can only be described in some averaged sense. Here, we show that the total mass transport by the circulation is twice as large when averaged on moist isentropes than when averaged on dry isentropes. The additional mass transport on moist isentropes corresponds to a poleward flow of warm moist air near Earth's surface that rises into the upper troposphere within mid-latitudes and accounts for up to half of the air in the upper troposphere in polar regions.

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