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Kerry Emanuel - Radiative Convective Equilibrium and its Breakdown

  • 11/1/2013 | 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
  • Location: Searles Science Building, Room 315
  • Event Type: Seminar

Kerry Emanuel - Radiative Convective Equilibrium and its BreakdownThe Department of Physics and Astronomy is delighted to present Kerry Emanuel, a noted professor of meteorology at MIT, and one of TIme Magazine's 100 influential people of 2006. Professor Emanuel will give a talk titled How rising air over a warn ocean can become a storm: Radiative Convective Equilibrium and its Breakdown. 


Radiative-convective equilibrium (RCE) is a simple paradigm for planetary climates, where energy arriving at the surface is balanced by radiation back to space and vertical energy transport (convection) by the atmosphere. Recent work suggests that more than one stable equilibrium state may be possible when the convection involves phase changes. Here I show, in the case of the earth, that when the ocean surface is above some critical temperature, the ordinary RCE state becomes linearly unstable and the atmosphere heads toward one of two states:  large-scale sinking of dry air, or rising moist air.  The latter can take the form of cloud clusters or tropical cyclones.

Refreshments will be served after the talk.