Atmospheric circulation in the midlatitudes is dominated by regions of strong eddy activity known as storm tracks. These storm tracks transport the bulk of the heat, momentum and moisture in the extratropics. Despite their importance to midlatitude climate much of the mechanisms governing the storm tracks remain poorly understood. Particularly the role of water vapor and latent heat release has received little attention, though the energy release due to latent heating over storm track formation regions is comparable to that of baroclinic processes. This work will investigate the mechanisms controlling the energy budget of storm tracks focusing on the role of water vapor. A hierarchy of models ranging from idealized dry and moist general circulation models (GCMs) to full comprehensive atmospheric GCMs will be used through systematic studies in order to isolate the mechanisms governing the dynamics.
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