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Aman Gupta
,
Robert Reichert
,
Andreas Dörnbrack
,
Hella Garny
,
Roland Eichinger
,
Inna Polichtchouk
,
Bernd Kaifler
, and
Thomas Birner

Abstract

Gravity waves (GWs) are among the key drivers of the meridional overturning circulation in the mesosphere and upper stratosphere. Their representation in climate models suffers from insufficient resolution and limited observational constraints on their parameterizations. This obscures assessments of middle atmospheric circulation changes in a changing climate. This study presents a comprehensive analysis of stratospheric GW activity above and downstream of the Andes from 1 to 15 August 2019, with special focus on GW representation ranging from an unprecedented kilometer-scale global forecast model (1.4 km ECMWF IFS), ground-based Rayleigh lidar (CORAL) observations, modern reanalysis (ERA5), to a coarse-resolution climate model (EMAC). Resolved vertical flux of zonal GW momentum (GWMF) is found to be stronger by a factor of at least 2–2.5 in IFS compared to ERA5. Compared to resolved GWMF in IFS, parameterizations in ERA5 and EMAC continue to inaccurately generate excessive GWMF poleward of 60°S, yielding prominent differences between resolved and parameterized GWMFs. A like-to-like validation of GW profiles in IFS and ERA5 reveals similar wave structures. Still, even at ∼1 km resolution, the resolved waves in IFS are weaker than those observed by lidar. Further, GWMF estimates across datasets reveal that temperature-based proxies, based on midfrequency approximations for linear GWs, overestimate GWMF due to simplifications and uncertainties in GW wavelength estimation from data. Overall, the analysis provides GWMF benchmarks for parameterization validation and calls for three-dimensional GW parameterizations, better upper-boundary treatment, and vertical resolution increases commensurate with increases in horizontal resolution in models, for a more realistic GW analysis.

Significance Statement

Gravity wave–induced momentum forcing forms a key component of the middle atmospheric circulation. However, complete knowledge of gravity waves, their atmospheric effects, and their long-term trends are obscured due to limited global observations, and the inability of current climate models to fully resolve them. This study combines a kilometer-scale forecast model, modern reanalysis, and a coarse-resolution climate model to first compare the resolved and parameterized momentum fluxes by gravity waves generated over the Andes, and then evaluate the fluxes using a state-of-the-art ground-based Rayleigh lidar. Our analysis reveals shortcomings in current model parameterizations of gravity waves in the middle atmosphere and highlights the sensitivity of the estimated flux to the formulation used.

Restricted access
Ulrich Achatz
,
M. Joan Alexander
,
Erich Becker
,
Hye-Yeong Chun
,
Andreas Dörnbrack
,
Laura Holt
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Inna Polichtchouk
,
Kaoru Sato
,
Aditi Sheshadri
,
Claudia Christine Stephan
,
Annelize van Niekerk
, and
Corwin J. Wright

Abstract

Atmospheric predictability from subseasonal to seasonal time scales and climate variability are both influenced critically by gravity waves (GW). The quality of regional and global numerical models relies on thorough understanding of GW dynamics and its interplay with chemistry, precipitation, clouds, and climate across many scales. For the foreseeable future, GWs and many other relevant processes will remain partly unresolved, and models will continue to rely on parameterizations. Recent model intercomparisons and studies show that present-day GW parameterizations do not accurately represent GW processes. These shortcomings introduce uncertainties, among others, in predicting the effects of climate change on important modes of variability. However, the last decade has produced new data and advances in theoretical and numerical developments that promise to improve the situation. This review gives a survey of these developments, discusses the present status of GW parameterizations, and formulates recommendations on how to proceed from there.

Open access
Stamen I. Dolaptchiev
,
Peter Spichtinger
,
Manuel Baumgartner
, and
Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

We present an asymptotic approach for the systematic investigation of the effect of gravity waves (GWs) on ice clouds formed through homogeneous nucleation. In particular, we consider high- and midfrequency GWs in the tropopause region driving the formation of ice clouds, modeled with a double-moment bulk ice microphysics scheme. The asymptotic approach allows for identifying reduced equations for self-consistent description of the ice dynamics forced by GWs including the effects of diffusional growth and nucleation of ice crystals. Further, corresponding analytical solutions for a monochromatic GW are derived under a single-parcel approximation. The results provide a simple expression for the nucleated number of ice crystals in a nucleation event. It is demonstrated that the asymptotic solutions capture the dynamics of the full ice model and accurately predict the nucleated ice crystal number. The present approach is extended to allow for superposition of GWs, as well as for variable ice crystal mean mass in the deposition. Implications of the results for an improved representation of GW variability in cirrus parameterizations are discussed.

Restricted access
Zuzana Procházková
,
Christopher G. Kruse
,
M. Joan Alexander
,
Lars Hoffmann
,
Julio T. Bacmeister
,
Laura Holt
,
Corwin Wright
,
Kaoru Sato
,
Sonja Gisinger
,
Manfred Ern
,
Markus Geldenhuys
,
Peter Preusse
, and
Petr Šácha

Abstract

Internal gravity waves (GWs) are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, making significant contributions to the mesoscale motions. Since the majority of their spectrum is unresolved in global circulation models, their effects need to be parameterized. In recent decades GWs have been increasingly studied in high-resolution simulations, which, unlike direct observations, allow us to explore full spatiotemporal variations of the resolved wave field. In our study we analyze and refine a traditional method for GW analysis in a high-resolution simulation on a regional domain around the Drake Passage. We show that GW momentum drag estimates based on the Gaussian high-pass filter method applied to separate GW perturbations from the background are sensitive to the choice of a cutoff parameter. The impact of the cutoff parameter is higher for horizontal fluxes of horizontal momentum, which indicates higher sensitivity for horizontally propagating waves. Two modified methods, which choose the parameter value from spectral information, are proposed. The dynamically determined cutoff is mostly higher than the traditional cutoff values around 500 km, leading to larger GW fluxes and drag, and varies with time and altitude. The differences between the traditional and the modified methods are especially pronounced during events with significant drag contributions from horizontal momentum fluxes.

Significance Statement

In this study, we highlight that the analysis of gravity wave activity from high-resolution datasets is a complex task with a pronounced sensitivity to the methodology, and we propose modified versions of a classical statistical gravity wave detection method enhanced by the spectral information. Although no optimal methodology exists to date, we show that the modified methods improve the accuracy of the gravity wave activity estimates, especially when oblique propagation plays a role.

Open access
Yanmichel A. Morfa
and
Claudia C. Stephan

Abstract

Several studies have reported vertical kinetic energy spectra almost white in horizontal wavenumber space with evidence of two maxima at synoptic scales and mesoscales, leaving the explanation of these maxima open. Processes known to influence the shape of the horizontal kinetic energy spectra include the superposition of quasi-linear inertia–gravity waves (IGWs), quasigeostrophic turbulence, and moist convection. In contrast, vertical kinetic energy has been discussed much less, as measuring vertical velocity remains challenging. This study compares the horizontal and vertical kinetic energy spectra and their relationships in global storm-resolving simulations from the DYAMOND experiment. The consistency of these relationships with linear IGW theory is tested by diagnosing horizontal wind fluctuations associated with IGW modes. Furthermore, it is shown that hydrostatic IGW polarization relations provide a quantitative prediction of the spectral slopes of vertical kinetic energy at large scales and mesoscales, where the intrinsic frequencies are inferred from the linearized vorticity equation. Our results suggest that IGW modes dominate the vertical kinetic energy spectra at most horizontal scales, whereas an incompressible, isotropic scaling of the continuity equation captures the relationship between horizontal and vertical kinetic energy spectra at small scales.

Free access
Inna Polichtchouk
,
Annelize van Niekerk
, and
Nils Wedi

Abstract

Global ECMWF IFS simulations with horizontal grid spacings of 1, 4, and 9 km are used to assess gravity wave forcing (GWF) in the extratropical stratosphere. Results with important implications for GWF parameterizations at high and intermediate resolutions are presented. A doubling in the zonal-mean resolved GWF is observed when the horizontal resolution is increased from 9 to 1 km. Small-scale gravity waves with horizontal wavelengths < 100 km dominate this increase. Over most regions, excluding the polar night jet in the Antarctic spring, the total (resolved + parameterized) GWF at 9 km (4 km) is underestimated by up to 30% (15%). This implies that the parameterization of GWF is still required at 9 and 4 km horizontal resolutions. Despite the small land area in the Southern Hemisphere (SH), the resolved orographic and nonorographic GWF contribute equally to the total GWF in the SH at 1 km resolution. This is not reflected in the partitioning of the parameterized GWF, which has a significantly larger nonorographic contribution at 9 km. As a result, a zonal-mean momentum budget analysis reveals that the total GWF contributes one-third of SH springtime polar vortex deceleration at 1 km, whereas the contribution is as much as 50% at 9 km. This suggests that a rebalancing of the parameterized nonorographic and orographic GWF is required.

Free access
Mozhgan Amiramjadi
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
, and
Mohammad Mirzaei

Abstract

Machine learning (ML) provides a powerful tool for investigating the relationship between the large-scale flow and unresolved processes, which need to be parameterized in climate models. The current work explores the performance of the random forest regressor (RF) as a nonparametric model in the reconstruction of nonorographic gravity waves (GWs) over midlatitude oceanic areas. The ERA5 dataset from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model outputs is employed in its full resolution to derive GW variations in the lower stratosphere. Coarse-grained variables in a column-based configuration of the atmosphere are used to reconstruct the GWs variability at the target level. The first important outcome is the relative success in reconstructing the GW signal (coefficient of determination R 2 ≈ 0.85 for “E3” combination). The second outcome is that the most informative explanatory variable is the local background wind speed. This questions the traditional framework of gravity wave parameterizations, for which, at these heights, one would expect more sensitivity to sources below than to local flow. Finally, to test the efficiency of a relatively simple, parametric statistical model, the efficiency of linear regression was compared to that of random forests with a restricted set of only five explanatory variables. Results were poor. Increasing the number of input variables to 15 hardly changes the performance of the linear regression (R 2 changes slightly from 0.18 to 0.21), while it leads to better results with the random forests (R 2 increases from 0.29 to 0.37).

Open access
Sebastian Borchert
and
Günther Zängl

Abstract

Parameterizations of subgrid-scale gravity waves (GWs) in atmospheric models commonly involve the description of the dissipation of GWs. Where they dissipate, GWs have an increased effect on the large-scale flow. Instabilities that trigger wave breaking are an important starting point for the route to dissipation. Possible destabilizing mechanisms are numerous, but the classical vertical static instability is still regarded as a key indicator for the disposition to wave breaking. In this work, we investigate how the horizontal variations associated with a GW could alter the criterion for static instability. To this end, we use an extension of the common parcel displacement method. This three-dimensional static stability analysis predicts a significantly larger range of instability than does the vertical static stability analysis. In this case, the Lindzen-type saturation adjustment to a state of marginal stability is perhaps a less suitable ansatz for the parameterization of the GW breaking. To develop a possible ansatz for the GW dissipation due to three-dimensional instability, we apply the methods of irreversible thermodynamics, which are embedded in the Gibbs formalism of dynamics. In this way, the parameterization does not only satisfy the second law of thermodynamics, but it can also be made consistent with the conservation of energy and further (non-)conservation principles. We develop the parameterization for a discrete spectrum of GW packets. Offline computations of GW drag and dissipative heating rates are performed for two vertical profiles of zonal wind and temperature for summer and winter conditions from CIRA data. The results are compared to benchmarks from the literature.

Free access
Junhong Wei
,
Fuqing Zhang
,
Jadwiga H. Richter
,
M. Joan Alexander
, and
Y. Qiang Sun

Abstract

Based on 20-day control forecasts by the 9-km Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for selected periods of summer and winter events, this study investigates global distributions of gravity wave momentum fluxes resolved by the highest-resolution-ever global operational numerical weather prediction model. Two supplementary datasets, including 18-km ECMWF IFS experiments and the 30-km ERA5, are included for comparison. In the stratosphere, there is a clear dominance of westward momentum fluxes over the winter extratropics with strong baroclinic instability, while eastward momentum fluxes are found in the summer tropics. However, meridional momentum fluxes, locally as important as the above zonal counterpart, show different behaviors of global distribution characteristics, with northward and southward momentum fluxes alternating with each other especially at lower altitudes. Both events illustrate conclusive evidence that stronger stratospheric fluxes are found in the ECMWF forecast with finer resolution, and that ERA5 datasets have the weakest signals in general, regardless of whether regridding is applied. In the troposphere, probability distributions of vertical motion perturbations are highly asymmetric with more strong positive signals especially over latitudes covering heavy rainfall, likely caused by convective forcing. With the aid of precipitation accumulation, a simple filtering method is proposed in an attempt to eliminate those tropospheric asymmetries by convective forcing, before calculating tropospheric wave-induced fluxes. Furthermore, this research demonstrates promising findings that the proposed filtering method could help in reducing the potential uncertainties with respect to estimating tropospheric wave-induced fluxes. Finally, absolute momentum flux distributions with proposed approaches are presented, for further assessment in the future.

Free access
Christopher G. Kruse
,
M. Joan Alexander
,
Lars Hoffmann
,
Annelize van Niekerk
,
Inna Polichtchouk
,
Julio T. Bacmeister
,
Laura Holt
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Petr Šácha
,
Corwin Wright
,
Kaoru Sato
,
Ryosuke Shibuya
,
Sonja Gisinger
,
Manfred Ern
,
Catrin I. Meyer
, and
Olaf Stein

Abstract

Four state-of-the-science numerical weather prediction (NWP) models were used to perform mountain wave (MW)-resolving hindcasts over the Drake Passage of a 10-day period in 2010 with numerous observed MW cases. The Integrated Forecast System (IFS) and the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic (ICON) model were run at Δx ≈ 9 and 13 km globally. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and the Met Office Unified Model (UM) were both configured with a Δx = 3-km regional domain. All domains had tops near 1 Pa (z ≈ 80 km). These deep domains allowed quantitative validation against Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) observations, accounting for observation time, viewing geometry, and radiative transfer. All models reproduced observed middle-atmosphere MWs with remarkable skill. Increased horizontal resolution improved validations. Still, all models underrepresented observed MW amplitudes, even after accounting for model effective resolution and instrument noise, suggesting even at Δx ≈ 3-km resolution, small-scale MWs are underresolved and/or overdiffused. MW drag parameterizations are still necessary in NWP models at current operational resolutions of Δx ≈ 10 km. Upper GW sponge layers in the operationally configured models significantly, artificially reduced MW amplitudes in the upper stratosphere and mesosphere. In the IFS, parameterized GW drags partly compensated this deficiency, but still, total drags were ≈6 times smaller than that resolved at Δx ≈ 3 km. Meridionally propagating MWs significantly enhance zonal drag over the Drake Passage. Interestingly, drag associated with meridional fluxes of zonal momentum (i.e., u υ ¯ ) were important; not accounting for these terms results in a drag in the wrong direction at and below the polar night jet.

Significance Statement

This study had three purposes: to quantitatively evaluate how well four state-of-the-science weather models could reproduce observed mountain waves (MWs) in the middle atmosphere, to compare the simulated MWs within the models, and to quantitatively evaluate two MW parameterizations in a widely used climate model. These models reproduced observed MWs with remarkable skill. Still, MW parameterizations are necessary in current Δx ≈ 10-km resolution global weather models. Even Δx ≈ 3-km resolution does not appear to be high enough to represent all momentum-fluxing MW scales. Meridionally propagating MWs can significantly influence zonal winds over the Drake Passage. Parameterizations that handle horizontal propagation may need to consider horizontal fluxes of horizontal momentum in order to get the direction of their forcing correct.

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