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Ronald B. Smith and Christopher G. Kruse

Abstract

Recent airborne mountain-wave measurements over New Zealand in the lower stratosphere during the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) campaign allow for improved spectral analysis of velocities u, υ, and w, pressure p, and temperature T fluctuations. Striking characteristics of these data are the spectral breadth and the different spectral shapes of the different physical quantities. Using idealized complex terrain as a guide, the spectra are divided into the long-wave “volume mode” arising from airflow over the whole massif and the short-wave “roughness mode” arising from flow into and out of valleys. The roughness mode is evident in the aircraft data as an intense band of w power from horizontal wavelength λ = 8–40 km. The shorter part of this band (i.e., λ = 8–15 km) falls near the nonhydrostatic buoyancy cutoff (λ = 2πU/N). It penetrates easily into the lower stratosphere but carries little u power or momentum flux. The longer part of this roughness mode (i.e., λ = 15–40 km) carries most of the wave momentum flux. The volume mode for New Zealand, in the range λ = 200–400 km, is detected using the u-power, p-power, and T-power spectra. Typically, the volume mode carries a third or less of the total wave momentum flux, but it dominates the u power and thus may control the wave breakdown aloft. Spectra from numerical simulations agree with theory and aircraft data. Problems with the monochromatic assumption for wave observation and momentum flux parameterization are discussed.

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Christopher G. Kruse, Ronald B. Smith, and Stephen D. Eckermann

Abstract

The vertical propagation and attenuation of mountain waves launched by New Zealand terrain during the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) field campaign are investigated. New Zealand mountain waves were frequently attenuated in a lower-stratospheric weak wind layer between z = 15 and 25 km. This layer is termed a “valve layer,” as conditions within this layer (primarily minimum wind speed) control mountain wave momentum flux through it, analogous to a valve controlling mass flux through a pipe. This valve layer is a climatological feature in the wintertime midlatitude lower stratosphere above the subtropical jet.

Mountain wave dynamics within this valve layer are studied using realistic Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations that were extensively validated against research aircraft, radiosonde, and satellite observations. Locally, wave attenuation is horizontally and vertically inhomogeneous, evidenced by numerous regions with wave-induced low Richardson numbers and potential vorticity generation. WRF-simulated gravity wave drag (GWD) is peaked in the valve layer, and momentum flux transmitted through this layer is well approximated by a cubic function of minimum ambient wind speed within it, consistent with linear saturation theory. Valve-layer GWD within the well-validated WRF simulations was 3–6 times larger than that parameterized within MERRA. Previous research suggests increasing parameterized orographic GWD (performed in MERRA2) decreases the stratospheric polar vortex strength by altering planetary wave propagation and drag. The results reported here suggest carefully increasing orographic GWD is warranted, which may help to ameliorate the common cold-pole problem in chemistry–climate models.

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Stephen D. Eckermann, Dave Broutman, Jun Ma, James D. Doyle, Pierre-Dominique Pautet, Michael J. Taylor, Katrina Bossert, Bifford P. Williams, David C. Fritts, and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

On 14 July 2014 during the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE), aircraft remote sensing instruments detected large-amplitude gravity wave oscillations within mesospheric airglow and sodium layers at altitudes z ~ 78–83 km downstream of the Auckland Islands, located ~1000 km south of Christchurch, New Zealand. A high-altitude reanalysis and a three-dimensional Fourier gravity wave model are used to investigate the dynamics of this event. At 0700 UTC when the first observations were made, surface flow across the islands’ terrain generated linear three-dimensional wave fields that propagated rapidly to z ~ 78 km, where intense breaking occurred in a narrow layer beneath a zero-wind region at z ~ 83 km. In the following hours, the altitude of weak winds descended under the influence of a large-amplitude migrating semidiurnal tide, leading to intense breaking of these wave fields in subsequent observations starting at 1000 UTC. The linear Fourier model constrained by upstream reanalysis reproduces the salient aspects of observed wave fields, including horizontal wavelengths, phase orientations, temperature and vertical displacement amplitudes, heights and locations of incipient wave breaking, and momentum fluxes. Wave breaking has huge effects on local circulations, with inferred layer-averaged westward flow accelerations of ~350 m s−1 h−1 and dynamical heating rates of ~8 K h−1, supporting recent speculation of important impacts of orographic gravity waves from subantarctic islands on the mean circulation and climate of the middle atmosphere during austral winter.

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Ronald B. Smith, Alison D. Nugent, Christopher G. Kruse, David C. Fritts, James D. Doyle, Steven D. Eckermann, Michael J. Taylor, Andreas Dörnbrack, M. Uddstrom, William Cooper, Pavel Romashkin, Jorgen Jensen, and Stuart Beaton

Abstract

During the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) project in June and July 2014, the Gulfstream V research aircraft flew 97 legs over the Southern Alps of New Zealand and 150 legs over the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, mostly in the low stratosphere at 12.1-km altitude. Improved instrument calibration, redundant sensors, longer flight legs, energy flux estimation, and scale analysis revealed several new gravity wave properties. Over the sea, flight-level wave fluxes mostly fell below the detection threshold. Over terrain, disturbances had characteristic mountain wave attributes of positive vertical energy flux (EFz), negative zonal momentum flux, and upwind horizontal energy flux. In some cases, the fluxes changed rapidly within an 8-h flight, even though environmental conditions were nearly unchanged. The largest observed zonal momentum and vertical energy fluxes were MFx = −550 mPa and EFz = 22 W m−2, respectively.

A wide variety of disturbance scales were found at flight level over New Zealand. The vertical wind variance at flight level was dominated by short “fluxless” waves with wavelengths in the 6–15-km range. Even shorter scales, down to 500 m, were found in wave breaking regions. The wavelength of the flux-carrying mountain waves was much longer—mostly between 60 and 150 km. In the strong cases, however, with EFz > 4 W m−2, the dominant flux wavelength decreased (i.e., “downshifted”) to an intermediate wavelength between 20 and 60 km. A potential explanation for the rapid flux changes and the scale “downshifting” is that low-level flow can shift between “terrain following” and “envelope following” associated with trapped air in steep New Zealand valleys.

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David C. Fritts, Ronald B. Smith, Michael J. Taylor, James D. Doyle, Stephen D. Eckermann, Andreas Dörnbrack, Markus Rapp, Bifford P. Williams, P.-Dominique Pautet, Katrina Bossert, Neal R. Criddle, Carolyn A. Reynolds, P. Alex Reinecke, Michael Uddstrom, Michael J. Revell, Richard Turner, Bernd Kaifler, Johannes S. Wagner, Tyler Mixa, Christopher G. Kruse, Alison D. Nugent, Campbell D. Watson, Sonja Gisinger, Steven M. Smith, Ruth S. Lieberman, Brian Laughman, James J. Moore, William O. Brown, Julie A. Haggerty, Alison Rockwell, Gregory J. Stossmeister, Steven F. Williams, Gonzalo Hernandez, Damian J. Murphy, Andrew R. Klekociuk, Iain M. Reid, and Jun Ma

Abstract

The Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) was designed to quantify gravity wave (GW) dynamics and effects from orographic and other sources to regions of dissipation at high altitudes. The core DEEPWAVE field phase took place from May through July 2014 using a comprehensive suite of airborne and ground-based instruments providing measurements from Earth’s surface to ∼100 km. Austral winter was chosen to observe deep GW propagation to high altitudes. DEEPWAVE was based on South Island, New Zealand, to provide access to the New Zealand and Tasmanian “hotspots” of GW activity and additional GW sources over the Southern Ocean and Tasman Sea. To observe GWs up to ∼100 km, DEEPWAVE utilized three new instruments built specifically for the National Science Foundation (NSF)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Gulfstream V (GV): a Rayleigh lidar, a sodium resonance lidar, and an advanced mesosphere temperature mapper. These measurements were supplemented by in situ probes, dropsondes, and a microwave temperature profiler on the GV and by in situ probes and a Doppler lidar aboard the German DLR Falcon. Extensive ground-based instrumentation and radiosondes were deployed on South Island, Tasmania, and Southern Ocean islands. Deep orographic GWs were a primary target but multiple flights also observed deep GWs arising from deep convection, jet streams, and frontal systems. Highlights include the following: 1) strong orographic GW forcing accompanying strong cross-mountain flows, 2) strong high-altitude responses even when orographic forcing was weak, 3) large-scale GWs at high altitudes arising from jet stream sources, and 4) significant flight-level energy fluxes and often very large momentum fluxes at high altitudes.

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Benedikt Ehard, Peggy Achtert, Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Jörg Gumbel, Mikhail Khaplanov, Markus Rapp, and Johannes Wagner

Abstract

The paper presents a feasible method to complement ground-based middle atmospheric Rayleigh lidar temperature observations with numerical simulations in the lower stratosphere and troposphere to study gravity waves. Validated mesoscale numerical simulations are utilized to complement the temperature below 30-km altitude. For this purpose, high-temporal-resolution output of the numerical results was interpolated on the position of the lidar in the lee of the Scandinavian mountain range. Two wintertime cases of orographically induced gravity waves are analyzed. Wave parameters are derived using a wavelet analysis of the combined dataset throughout the entire altitude range from the troposphere to the mesosphere. Although similar in the tropospheric forcings, both cases differ in vertical propagation. The combined dataset reveals stratospheric wave breaking for one case, whereas the mountain waves in the other case could propagate up to about 40-km altitude. The lidar observations reveal an interaction of the vertically propagating gravity waves with the stratopause, leading to a stratopause descent in both cases.

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Christopher G. Kruse and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

As numerical models of complex atmospheric flows increase their quality and resolution, it becomes valuable to isolate and quantify the embedded resolved gravity waves. The authors propose a spatial filtering method combined with a selection of quadratic diagnostic quantities such as heat, momentum, and energy fluxes to do this. These covariant quantities were found to be insensitive to filter cutoff length scales between 300 and 700 km, suggesting the existence of a “cospectral gap.” The gravity waves identified with the proposed method display known properties from idealized studies, including vertical propagation, upwind propagation, the relationship between momentum and energy flux, and agreement with fluxes derived from an alternative method involving simulations with and without terrain. The proposed method is applied to 2- and 6-km-resolution realistic WRF simulations of orographic and nonorographic gravity waves over and around New Zealand within complex frontal cyclones. Deep mountain wave, shallow mountain wave, jet-generated gravity wave, and convection-generated gravity wave events were chosen for analysis. The four wave events shared the characteristics of positive vertical energy flux, negative zonal momentum flux, and upwind horizontal energy flux. Two of the gravity wave events were dissipated nonlinearly.

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