Sanders, Frederick Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bluestein, Howard B. Department of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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In meteorological usage, solenoids are hypothetical tubes formed in space by the intersection of a set of surfaces of constant pressure (isobaric surfaces) and a set of surfaces of constant specific volume of air (isosteric surfaces) or density (isopycnic surfaces). The isobaric and isosteric surfaces are such that the values of pressure and specific volume, respectively, change by one unit from one surface to the next. The state of the atmosphere is said to be barotropic when there are no solenoids, that is, when isobaric and isosteric surfaces coincide. The number of solenoids cut by any plane surface element of unit area is a measure of the torque exerted by the pressure gradient force, tending to accelerate the circulation of air around the boundary of the area. See also: Baroclinic field; Barotropic field; Isopycnic
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