Barotropic vorticity equation

A simplified form of the "vorticity equation" for an inviscid, divergence-free flow, the barotropic vorticity equation can simply be stated as

:frac{D eta}{D t} = 0,

where frac{D}{D t} is the material derivative and

:eta = zeta + f

is "absolute vorticity", with zeta being "relative vorticity", defined as the vertical component of the curl of the fluidvelocity and "f" is the "Coriolis parameter"

:f = 2 Omega sin phi,

where Omega is the angular frequency of the planet'srotation (Omega=0.7272*10-4 s-1 for the earth) and phi is latitude.

In terms of "relative vorticity", the equation can be rewritten as

:frac{D zeta}{D t} = -v eta,

where eta = partial f / partial y is the variation of the "Coriolis parameter" with distance y in the north-south directionand v is the component of velocity in this direction.

In 1950, Charney, Fjorloft, and von Neumann integrated this equation (with an added diffusion term on the RHS) on a computer for the first time, using an observed field of 500 hPa geopotential height for the first timestep. This was the one of the first successful instances of numerical weather forecasting.

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