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Junhong Wei, Gergely Bölöni, and Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

This paper compares two different approaches for the efficient modeling of subgrid-scale inertia–gravity waves in a rotating compressible atmosphere. The first approach, denoted as the pseudomomentum scheme, exploits the fact that in a Lagrangian-mean reference frame the response of a large-scale flow can only be due to forcing momentum. Present-day gravity wave parameterizations follow this route. They do so, however, in an Eulerian-mean formulation. Transformation to that reference frame leads, under certain assumptions, to pseudomomentum-flux convergence by which the momentum is to be forced. It can be shown that this approach is justified if the large-scale flow is in geostrophic and hydrostatic balance. Otherwise, elastic and thermal effects might be lost. In the second approach, called the direct scheme and not relying on such assumptions, the large-scale flow is forced both in the momentum equation, by anelastic momentum-flux convergence and an additional elastic term, and in the entropy equation, via entropy-flux convergence. A budget analysis based on one-dimensional wave packets suggests that the comparison between the abovementioned two schemes should be sensitive to the following two parameters: 1) the intrinsic frequency and 2) the wave packet scale. The smaller the intrinsic frequency is, the greater their differences are. More importantly, with high-resolution wave-resolving simulations as a reference, this study shows conclusive evidence that the direct scheme is more reliable than the pseudomomentum scheme, regardless of whether one-dimensional or two-dimensional wave packets are considered. In addition, sensitivity experiments are performed to further investigate the relative importance of each term in the direct scheme, as well as the wave–mean flow interactions during the wave propagation.

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Claudia Christine Stephan, Cornelia Strube, Daniel Klocke, Manfred Ern, Lars Hoffmann, Peter Preusse, and Hauke Schmidt

Abstract

Large uncertainties remain with respect to the representation of atmospheric gravity waves (GWs) in general circulation models (GCMs) with coarse grids. Insufficient parameterizations result from a lack of observational constraints on the parameters used in GW parameterizations as well as from physical inconsistencies between parameterizations and reality. For instance, parameterizations make oversimplifying assumptions about the generation and propagation of GWs. Increasing computational capabilities now allow GCMs to run at grid spacings that are sufficiently fine to resolve a major fraction of the GW spectrum. This study presents the first intercomparison of resolved GW pseudomomentum fluxes (GWMFs) in global convection-permitting simulations and those derived from satellite observations. Six simulations of three different GCMs are analyzed over the period of one month of August to assess the sensitivity of GWMF to model formulation and horizontal grid spacing. The simulations reproduce detailed observed features of the global GWMF distribution, which can be attributed to realistic GWs from convection, orography, and storm tracks. Yet the GWMF magnitudes differ substantially between simulations. Differences in the strength of convection may help explain differences in the GWMF between simulations of the same model in the summer low latitudes where convection is the primary source. Across models, there is no evidence for a systematic change with resolution. Instead, GWMF is strongly affected by model formulation. The results imply that validating the realism of simulated GWs across the entire resolved spectrum will remain a difficult challenge not least because of a lack of appropriate observational data.

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Martina Bramberger, Andreas Dörnbrack, Henrike Wilms, Steffen Gemsa, Kevin Raynor, and Robert Sharman

Abstract

Stall warnings at flight level 410 (12.5 km) occurred unexpectedly during a research flight of the High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) over Italy on 12 January 2016. The dangerous flight situation was mitigated by pilot intervention. At the incident location, the stratosphere was characterized by large horizontal variations in the along-track wind speed and temperature. On this particular day, strong northwesterly winds in the lower troposphere in concert with an aligned polar front jet favored the excitation and vertical propagation of large-amplitude mountain waves at and above the Apennines in Italy. These mountain waves carried large vertical energy fluxes of 8 W m−2 and propagated without significant dissipation from the troposphere into the stratosphere. While turbulence is a well-acknowledged hazard to aviation, this case study reveals that nonbreaking, vertically propagating mountain waves also pose a potential hazard, especially to high-flying aircraft. It is the wave-induced modulation of the ambient along-track wind speed that may decrease the aircraft speed toward the minimum needed stall speed.

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Jannik Wilhelm, T. R. Akylas, Gergely Bölöni, Junhong Wei, Bruno Ribstein, Rupert Klein, and Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

As present weather forecast codes and increasingly many atmospheric climate models resolve at least part of the mesoscale flow, and hence also internal gravity waves (GWs), it is natural to ask whether even in such configurations subgrid-scale GWs might impact the resolved flow and how their effect could be taken into account. This motivates a theoretical and numerical investigation of the interactions between unresolved submesoscale and resolved mesoscale GWs, using Boussinesq dynamics for simplicity. By scaling arguments, first a subset of submesoscale GWs that can indeed influence the dynamics of mesoscale GWs is identified. Therein, hydrostatic GWs with wavelengths corresponding to the largest unresolved scales of present-day limited-area weather forecast models are an interesting example. A large-amplitude WKB theory, allowing for a mesoscale unbalanced flow, is then formulated, based on multiscale asymptotic analysis utilizing a proper scale-separation parameter. Purely vertical propagation of submesoscale GWs is found to be most important, implying inter alia that the resolved flow is only affected by the vertical flux convergence of submesoscale horizontal momentum at leading order. In turn, submesoscale GWs are refracted by mesoscale vertical wind shear while conserving their wave-action density. An efficient numerical implementation of the theory uses a phase-space ray tracer, thus handling the frequent appearance of caustics. The WKB approach and its numerical implementation are validated successfully against submesoscale-resolving simulations of the resonant radiation of mesoscale inertia GWs by a horizontally as well as vertically confined submesoscale GW packet.

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Tanja C. Portele, Andreas Dörnbrack, Johannes S. Wagner, Sonja Gisinger, Benedikt Ehard, Pierre-Dominique Pautet, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

The impact of transient tropospheric forcing on the deep vertical mountain-wave propagation is investigated by a unique combination of in situ and remote sensing observations and numerical modeling. The temporal evolution of the upstream low-level wind follows approximately a shape and was controlled by a migrating trough and connected fronts. Our case study reveals the importance of the time-varying propagation conditions in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). Upper-tropospheric stability, the wind profile, and the tropopause strength affected the observed and simulated wave response in the UTLS. Leg-integrated along-track momentum fluxes () and amplitudes of vertical displacements of air parcels in the UTLS reached up to 130 kN m−1 and 1500 m, respectively. Their maxima were phase shifted to the maximum low-level forcing by ≈8 h. Small-scale waves ( km) were continuously forced, and their flux values depended on wave attenuation by breaking and reflection in the UTLS region. Only maximum flow over the envelope of the mountain range favored the excitation of longer waves that propagated deeply into the mesosphere. Their long propagation time caused a retarded enhancement of observed mesospheric gravity wave activity about 12–15 h after their observation in the UTLS. For the UTLS, we further compared observed and simulated with fluxes of 2D quasi-steady runs. UTLS momentum fluxes seem to be reproducible by individual quasi-steady 2D runs, except for the flux enhancement during the early decelerating forcing phase.

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Christoph Zülicke, Erich Becker, Vivien Matthias, Dieter H. W. Peters, Hauke Schmidt, Han-Li Liu, Laura de la Torre Ramos, and Daniel M. Mitchell

Abstract

The vertical coupling between the stratosphere and the mesosphere is diagnosed from polar cap temperatures averaged over 60°–90°N with a new method: the joint occurrence of a warm stratosphere at 10 hPa and a cold mesosphere at 0.01 hPa. The investigation of an 11-yr-long dataset (2004–15) from Aura-MLS observations shows that such mesospheric coupling days appear in 7% of the winter. During major sudden stratospheric warming events mesospheric couplings are present with an enhanced average daily frequency of 22%. This daily frequency changes from event to event but broadly results in five of seven major warmings being classified as mesospheric couplings (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013). The observed fraction of mesospheric coupling events (71%) is compared with simulations of the Kühlungsborn Mechanistic Circulation Model (KMCM), the Hamburg Model of the Neutral and Ionized Atmosphere (HAMMONIA), and the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). The simulated fraction of mesospheric coupling events ranges between 57% and 94%, which fits the observations. In searching for causal relations weak evidence is found that major warming events with strong intensity or split vortices favor their coupling with the upper mesosphere. More evidence is found with a conceptual model: an effective vertical coupling between 10 and 0.01 hPa is provided by deep zonal-mean easterlies at 60°N, which are acting as a gravity-wave guide. The explained variance is above 40% in the four datasets, which indicates a near-realistic simulation of this process.

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Mohammad Mirzaei, Ali R. Mohebalhojeh, Christoph Zülicke, and Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

Quantification of inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) generated by upper-level jet–surface front systems and their parameterization in global models of the atmosphere relies on suitable methods to estimate the strength of IGWs. A harmonic divergence analysis (HDA) that has been previously employed for quantification of IGWs combines wave properties from linear dynamics with a sophisticated statistical analysis to provide such estimates. A question of fundamental importance that arises is how the measures of IGW activity provided by the HDA are related to the measures coming from the wave–vortex decomposition (WVD) methods. The question is addressed by employing the nonlinear balance relations of the first-order δγ, the Bolin–Charney, and the first- to third-order Rossby number expansion to carry out WVD. The global kinetic energy of IGWs given by the HDA and WVD are compared in numerical simulations of moist baroclinic waves by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in a channel on the f plane. The estimates of the HDA are found to be 2–3 times smaller than those of the optimal WVD. This is in part due to the absence of a well-defined scale separation between the waves and vortical flows, the IGW estimates by the HDA capturing only the dominant wave packets and with limited scales. It is also shown that the difference between the HDA and WVD estimates is related to the width of the IGW spectrum.

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Sonja Gisinger, Andreas Dörnbrack, Vivien Matthias, James D. Doyle, Stephen D. Eckermann, Benedikt Ehard, Lars Hoffmann, Bernd Kaifler, Christopher G. Kruse, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

This paper describes the results of a comprehensive analysis of the atmospheric conditions during the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) campaign in austral winter 2014. Different datasets and diagnostics are combined to characterize the background atmosphere from the troposphere to the upper mesosphere. How weather regimes and the atmospheric state compare to climatological conditions is reported upon and how they relate to the airborne and ground-based gravity wave observations is also explored. Key results of this study are the dominance of tropospheric blocking situations and low-level southwesterly flows over New Zealand during June–August 2014. A varying tropopause inversion layer was found to be connected to varying vertical energy fluxes and is, therefore, an important feature with respect to wave reflection. The subtropical jet was frequently diverted south from its climatological position at 30°S and was most often involved in strong forcing events of mountain waves at the Southern Alps. The polar front jet was typically responsible for moderate and weak tropospheric forcing of mountain waves. The stratospheric planetary wave activity amplified in July leading to a displacement of the Antarctic polar vortex. This reduced the stratospheric wind minimum by about 10 m s−1 above New Zealand making breaking of large-amplitude gravity waves more likely. Satellite observations in the upper stratosphere revealed that orographic gravity wave variances for 2014 were largest in May–July (i.e., the period of the DEEPWAVE field phase).

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Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Michael C. Pitts, Lamont R. Poole, and Marion Maturilli

Abstract

The presented picture of the month is a superposition of spaceborne lidar observations and high-resolution temperature fields of the ECMWF Integrated Forecast System (IFS). It displays complex tropospheric and stratospheric clouds in the Arctic winter of 2015/16. Near the end of December 2015, the unusual northeastward propagation of warm and humid subtropical air masses as far north as 80°N lifted the tropopause by more than 3 km in 24 h and cooled the stratosphere on a large scale. A widespread formation of thick cirrus clouds near the tropopause and of synoptic-scale polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) occurred as the temperature dropped below the thresholds for the existence of cloud particles. Additionally, mountain waves were excited by the strong flow at the western edge of the ridge across Svalbard, leading to the formation of mesoscale ice PSCs. The most recent IFS cycle using a horizontal resolution of 8 km globally reproduces the large-scale and mesoscale flow features and leads to a remarkable agreement with the wave structure revealed by the spaceborne observations.

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Gergely Bölöni, Bruno Ribstein, Jewgenija Muraschko, Christine Sgoff, Junhong Wei, and Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

With the aim of contributing to the improvement of subgrid-scale gravity wave (GW) parameterizations in numerical weather prediction and climate models, the comparative relevance in GW drag of direct GW–mean flow interactions and turbulent wave breakdown are investigated. Of equal interest is how well Wentzel–Kramer–Brillouin (WKB) theory can capture direct wave–mean flow interactions that are excluded by applying the steady-state approximation. WKB is implemented in a very efficient Lagrangian ray-tracing approach that considers wave-action density in phase space, thereby avoiding numerical instabilities due to caustics. It is supplemented by a simple wave-breaking scheme based on a static-instability saturation criterion. Idealized test cases of horizontally homogeneous GW packets are considered where wave-resolving large-eddy simulations (LESs) provide the reference. In all of these cases, the WKB simulations including direct GW–mean flow interactions already reproduce the LES data to a good accuracy without a wave-breaking scheme. The latter scheme provides a next-order correction that is useful for fully capturing the total energy balance between wave and mean flow. Moreover, a steady-state WKB implementation as used in present GW parameterizations where turbulence provides by the noninteraction paradigm, the only possibility to affect the mean flow, is much less able to yield reliable results. The GW energy is damped too strongly and induces an oversimplified mean flow. This argues for WKB approaches to GW parameterization that take wave transience into account.

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