quantity with nonzero components in the latitude–height plane, the direction and magnitude of which determine the relative importance of eddy heat flux
and momentum flux
When the Eliassen–Palm flux (EPF) vector points upward, the meridional
heat flux dominates; when the EPF vector points in the meridional direction, the meridional flux of zonal
momentum dominates. The divergence
of the Eliassen–Palm flux is more frequently used as a diagnostic tool, as it is proportional to the eddy
flux. In the special case when the EPF divergence is zero, as for steady, frictionless, linear
waves, thermal wind
balance is maintained in an idealized zonally symmetric atmosphere
through the induction of a mean meridional circulation
, even though the waves produce significant eddy heat and momentum fluxes.
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