The motion of the Earth’s atmosphere is driven by differential heating. The reservoir of the available potential energy, which describes the difference between the actual state of the atmosphere and a hypothetical atmosphere at rest, is estimated to be about 55 x 105 Jm−2 as a mean value around the globe. This reservoir feeds the reservoir of kinetic energy (15 x 105 Jm−2), from where the energy dissipates into heat with a rate of 2.3 Wm−2. As these reservoirs are fairly constant in a climatological sense, the production rate of available potential energy and the transformation rate into kinetic energy has also to be 2.3 Wm−2. In traditional weather forecast models it was not necessary to put much effort into a precise description of the differential heating, the main source of available potential energy, because the time to exhaust the reservoirs mentioned above is given in months.
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- Land Surface Energy Budget
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg