Parameterization of Planetary Wave Breaking in the Middle Atmosphere

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

A parameterization of planetary wave breaking in the middle atmosphere has been developed and tested in a numerical model which includes governing equations for a single wave and the zonal-mean state. The parameterization is based on the assumption that wave breaking represents a steady-state equilibrium between the flux of wave activity and its dissipation by nonlinear processes, and that the latter can be represented as linear damping of the primary wave. With this and the additional assumption that the effect of breaking is to prevent further amplitude growth, the required dissipation rate is readily obtained from the steady-state equation for wave activity; diffusivity coefficients then follow from the dissipation rate. The assumptions made in the derivation are equivalent to those commonly used in parameterizations for gravity wave breaking, but the formulation in terms of wave activity helps highlight the central role of the wave group velocity in determining the dissipation rate. Comparison of model results with nonlinear calculations of wave breaking and with diagnostic determinations of stratospheric diffusion coefficients reveals remarkably good agreement, and suggests that the parameterization could be useful for simulating inexpensively, but realistically, the effects of planetary wave transport.

Abstract

A parameterization of planetary wave breaking in the middle atmosphere has been developed and tested in a numerical model which includes governing equations for a single wave and the zonal-mean state. The parameterization is based on the assumption that wave breaking represents a steady-state equilibrium between the flux of wave activity and its dissipation by nonlinear processes, and that the latter can be represented as linear damping of the primary wave. With this and the additional assumption that the effect of breaking is to prevent further amplitude growth, the required dissipation rate is readily obtained from the steady-state equation for wave activity; diffusivity coefficients then follow from the dissipation rate. The assumptions made in the derivation are equivalent to those commonly used in parameterizations for gravity wave breaking, but the formulation in terms of wave activity helps highlight the central role of the wave group velocity in determining the dissipation rate. Comparison of model results with nonlinear calculations of wave breaking and with diagnostic determinations of stratospheric diffusion coefficients reveals remarkably good agreement, and suggests that the parameterization could be useful for simulating inexpensively, but realistically, the effects of planetary wave transport.

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