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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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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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