Sanders, Frederick Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bluestein, Howard B. Department of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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A distribution of atmospheric pressure and mass such that the specific volume, or density, of air is a function solely of pressure. When the field is barotropic, there are no solenoids, air temperature is constant on a surface of constant pressure, and there is no vertical shear of the geostrophic wind. Significant cyclonic and anticyclonic circulations typically do not develop in barotropic fields. Considerable success has been achieved, paradoxically, in prediction of the flow pattern at middle-tropospheric elevations by methods which are strictly applicable only to barotropic fields, despite the fact that the field in this region is definitely not barotropic. The subtropics, however, are to a large extent barotropic. See also: Air pressure; Baroclinic field; Geostrophic wind; Solenoid (meteorology); Weather forecasting and prediction; Wind
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