A Model of Stationary Gravity Wave Breakdown with Convective Adjustment

Mark R. Schoeberl NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Abstract

A steady WKB model of gravity wave propagation including convective adjustment is used to investigate approximations used in various gravity-wave parameterization schemes. First, it is shown that estimates of the wave breaking height assuming a single horizontal wavenumber gravity wave can lead to errors if the topography is not sinusoidal. Second, the model results show that the assumption that wave growth ceases with the onset of convection or shear instability is an oversimplification. Since convection appears first over a very limited spatial region of the wave field, the wave is initially unaffected by turbulent mixing. However, when the convection zone spreads over a large portion of the wave field the amplitude is constrained. Estimates of the heat flux by breaking gravity waves are used to develop a simple parameterization of the vertical diffusion in terms of the Reynolds stress.

Abstract

A steady WKB model of gravity wave propagation including convective adjustment is used to investigate approximations used in various gravity-wave parameterization schemes. First, it is shown that estimates of the wave breaking height assuming a single horizontal wavenumber gravity wave can lead to errors if the topography is not sinusoidal. Second, the model results show that the assumption that wave growth ceases with the onset of convection or shear instability is an oversimplification. Since convection appears first over a very limited spatial region of the wave field, the wave is initially unaffected by turbulent mixing. However, when the convection zone spreads over a large portion of the wave field the amplitude is constrained. Estimates of the heat flux by breaking gravity waves are used to develop a simple parameterization of the vertical diffusion in terms of the Reynolds stress.

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