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Stratospheric Gravity Waves Generated by Multiscale Tropical Convection

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  • 1 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The generation of gravity waves by multiscale cloud systems evolving in an initially motionless and thermodynamically uniform environment is explored using a two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model. The simulated convection has similar depth and intensity to observed tropical oceanic systems. The convection self-organizes into preferred horizontal and temporal scales involving weakly organized propagating cloud clusters. The multiscale systems generate a broad spectrum of gravity waves with horizontal scales that range from the cloud-system scale up to the cloud-cluster scale. The gravity waves with the largest horizontal scale play an important role in modifying layered tropospheric inflow and outflow to the cloud systems, which in turn influence the multiscale convective organization. Slower-moving short-scale gravity waves make the strongest individual contribution to the vertical flux of horizontal momentum and cause a robust peak in the momentum flux spectrum that corresponds to the lifetime and spatial scale of the individual cloud systems.

Corresponding author address: Todd Lane, School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia. Email: tplane@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

The generation of gravity waves by multiscale cloud systems evolving in an initially motionless and thermodynamically uniform environment is explored using a two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model. The simulated convection has similar depth and intensity to observed tropical oceanic systems. The convection self-organizes into preferred horizontal and temporal scales involving weakly organized propagating cloud clusters. The multiscale systems generate a broad spectrum of gravity waves with horizontal scales that range from the cloud-system scale up to the cloud-cluster scale. The gravity waves with the largest horizontal scale play an important role in modifying layered tropospheric inflow and outflow to the cloud systems, which in turn influence the multiscale convective organization. Slower-moving short-scale gravity waves make the strongest individual contribution to the vertical flux of horizontal momentum and cause a robust peak in the momentum flux spectrum that corresponds to the lifetime and spatial scale of the individual cloud systems.

Corresponding author address: Todd Lane, School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia. Email: tplane@unimelb.edu.au

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