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Characteristics of Wave Packets in the Upper Troposphere. Part I: Northern Hemisphere Winter

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  • 1 Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

Gridded data produced by the ECMWF reanalysis project have been analyzed to document the properties of wave packets in the Northern Hemisphere winter midlatitude upper troposphere. Based on results from earlier investigations, 300-hPa meridional wind variations were chosen for analysis. Wave packet envelopes were also defined by performing complex demodulation on the wind data. The properties of the wave packets are mainly illustrated using time-lagged one-point correlation maps performed both on υ′ and wave packet envelopes.

The results show that, over most regions in the Northern Hemisphere winter, with the exception of the deep Tropics and near the Aleutian low, medium-scale waves (dominant wavenumber 5–8) exhibit the characteristics of downstream development and occur within wave trains that propagate with eastward group velocities much faster than the phase speeds of individual phases of the waves. Their group velocity is highly correlated with the local time mean 200–400-hPa wind, while the phase speed is well correlated with the 500–700-hPa flow.

A wave coherence index has been defined to show the geographical variations in the downstream development tendency of wave propagation. The results show that wave packets are most coherent along a band that extends from North Africa into southern Asia, toward the Pacific storm track, across North America, then over the central North Atlantic back toward North Africa. The maximum coherence occurs over southern Asia. This band can be regarded as the waveguide for upper-tropospheric wave packets in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Over this band, wave packets generally stay coherent significantly longer than individual troughs and ridges. There is also a secondary waveguide across Russia toward the Pacific, acting as a second source of waves that propagate across the Pacific storm track. Away from the primary waveguide, while wave packet coherence is less, the waves still show the characteristics of downstream development.

* Additional affiliation: Physics Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edmund K. Chang, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 54-1614, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Email: echang@mit.edu

Abstract

Gridded data produced by the ECMWF reanalysis project have been analyzed to document the properties of wave packets in the Northern Hemisphere winter midlatitude upper troposphere. Based on results from earlier investigations, 300-hPa meridional wind variations were chosen for analysis. Wave packet envelopes were also defined by performing complex demodulation on the wind data. The properties of the wave packets are mainly illustrated using time-lagged one-point correlation maps performed both on υ′ and wave packet envelopes.

The results show that, over most regions in the Northern Hemisphere winter, with the exception of the deep Tropics and near the Aleutian low, medium-scale waves (dominant wavenumber 5–8) exhibit the characteristics of downstream development and occur within wave trains that propagate with eastward group velocities much faster than the phase speeds of individual phases of the waves. Their group velocity is highly correlated with the local time mean 200–400-hPa wind, while the phase speed is well correlated with the 500–700-hPa flow.

A wave coherence index has been defined to show the geographical variations in the downstream development tendency of wave propagation. The results show that wave packets are most coherent along a band that extends from North Africa into southern Asia, toward the Pacific storm track, across North America, then over the central North Atlantic back toward North Africa. The maximum coherence occurs over southern Asia. This band can be regarded as the waveguide for upper-tropospheric wave packets in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Over this band, wave packets generally stay coherent significantly longer than individual troughs and ridges. There is also a secondary waveguide across Russia toward the Pacific, acting as a second source of waves that propagate across the Pacific storm track. Away from the primary waveguide, while wave packet coherence is less, the waves still show the characteristics of downstream development.

* Additional affiliation: Physics Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Edmund K. Chang, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 54-1614, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Email: echang@mit.edu

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