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Mountain Waves Entering the Stratosphere

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  • 1 Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • | 2 NCAR*–UCAR, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California
  • | 4 UCAR, Monterey, California
  • | 5 Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
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Abstract

Using the National Science Foundation (NSF)–NCAR Gulfstream V and the NSF–Wyoming King Air research aircraft during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in March–April 2006, six cases of Sierra Nevada mountain waves were surveyed with 126 cross-mountain legs. The goal was to identify the influence of the tropopause on waves entering the stratosphere. During each flight leg, part of the variation in observed parameters was due to parameter layering, heaving up and down in the waves. Diagnosis of the combined wave-layering signal was aided with innovative use of new GPS altitude measurements. The ozone and water vapor layering correlated with layered Bernoulli function and cross-flow speed.

GPS-corrected static pressure was used to compute the vertical energy flux, confirming, for the first time, the Eliassen–Palm relation between momentum and energy flux (EF = −U · MF). Kinetic (KE) and potential (PE) wave energy densities were also computed. The equipartition ratio (EQR = PE/KE) changed abruptly across the tropopause, indicating partial wave reflection. In one case (16 April 2006) systematically reversed momentum and energy fluxes were found in the stratosphere above 12 km. On a “wave property diagram,” three families of waves were identified: up- and downgoing long waves (30 km) and shorter (14 km) trapped waves. For the latter two types, an explanation is proposed related to secondary generation near the tropopause and reflection or secondary generation in the lower stratosphere.

Corresponding author address: Ronald B. Smith, Yale University, P.O. Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109. Email: ronald.smith@yale.edu

This article included in the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-Rex) special collection.

Abstract

Using the National Science Foundation (NSF)–NCAR Gulfstream V and the NSF–Wyoming King Air research aircraft during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in March–April 2006, six cases of Sierra Nevada mountain waves were surveyed with 126 cross-mountain legs. The goal was to identify the influence of the tropopause on waves entering the stratosphere. During each flight leg, part of the variation in observed parameters was due to parameter layering, heaving up and down in the waves. Diagnosis of the combined wave-layering signal was aided with innovative use of new GPS altitude measurements. The ozone and water vapor layering correlated with layered Bernoulli function and cross-flow speed.

GPS-corrected static pressure was used to compute the vertical energy flux, confirming, for the first time, the Eliassen–Palm relation between momentum and energy flux (EF = −U · MF). Kinetic (KE) and potential (PE) wave energy densities were also computed. The equipartition ratio (EQR = PE/KE) changed abruptly across the tropopause, indicating partial wave reflection. In one case (16 April 2006) systematically reversed momentum and energy fluxes were found in the stratosphere above 12 km. On a “wave property diagram,” three families of waves were identified: up- and downgoing long waves (30 km) and shorter (14 km) trapped waves. For the latter two types, an explanation is proposed related to secondary generation near the tropopause and reflection or secondary generation in the lower stratosphere.

Corresponding author address: Ronald B. Smith, Yale University, P.O. Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109. Email: ronald.smith@yale.edu

This article included in the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-Rex) special collection.

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