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Andreas Dörnbrack

Abstract

Planetary waves disturbed the hitherto stable Arctic stratospheric polar vortex in the middle of January 2016 in such a way that unique tropospheric and stratospheric flow conditions for vertically and horizontally propagating mountain waves developed. Coexisting strong low-level westerly winds across almost all European mountain ranges plus the almost zonally aligned polar-front jet created these favorable conditions for deeply propagating gravity waves. Furthermore, the northward displacement of the polar night jet resulted in a widespread coverage of stratospheric mountain waves trailing across Northern Europe. This paper describes the particular meteorological setting by analyzing the tropospheric and stratospheric flows based on the ERA5 data. The potential of the flow for exciting internal gravity waves from nonorographic sources is evaluated across all altitudes by considering various indices to indicate flow imbalances as δ, Ro, Roζ, Ro, and ΔNBE. The analyzed gravity waves are described and characterized. The main finding of this case study is the exceptionally vast extension of the mountain waves trailing to high latitudes originating from the flow across the mountainous sources that are located at about 45°N. The magnitudes of the simulated stratospheric temperature perturbations attain values larger than 10 K and are comparable to values as documented by recent case studies of large-amplitude mountain waves over South America. The zonal means of the resolved and parameterized stratospheric wave drag during the mountain wave event peak at −4.5 and −32.2 m s−1 day−1, respectively.

Open access

Nonlinear Simulations of Gravity Wave Tunneling and Breaking over Auckland Island

Tyler Mixa, Andreas Dörnbrack, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

Horizontally dispersing gravity waves with horizontal wavelengths of 30–40 km were observed at mesospheric altitudes over Auckland Island by the airborne advanced mesospheric temperature mapper during a Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) research flight on 14 July 2014. A 3D nonlinear compressible model is used to determine which propagation conditions enabled gravity wave penetration into the mesosphere and how the resulting instability characteristics led to widespread momentum deposition. Results indicate that linear tunneling through the polar night jet enabled quick gravity wave propagation from the surface up to the mesopause, while subsequent instability processes reveal large rolls that formed in the negative shear above the jet maximum and led to significant momentum deposition as they descended. This study suggests that gravity wave tunneling is a viable source for this case and other deep propagation events reaching the mesosphere and lower thermosphere.

Open access
Mahnoosh Haghighatnasab, Mohammad Mirzaei, Ali R. Mohebalhojeh, Christoph Zülicke, and Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

The parameterization of inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) is of considerable importance in general circulation models. Among the challenging issues faced in studies concerned with parameterization of IGWs is the estimation of diabatic forcing in a way independent of the physics parameterization schemes, in particular, convection. The requirement is to estimate the diabatic heating associated with balanced motion. This can be done by comparing estimates of balanced vertical motion with and without diabatic effects. The omega equation provides the natural method of estimating balanced vertical motion without diabatic effects, and several methods for including diabatic effects are compared. To this end, the assumption of spatial-scale separation between IGWs and balanced flows is combined with a suitable form of the balanced omega equation. To test the methods constructed for estimating diabatic heating, an idealized numerical simulation of the moist baroclinic waves is performed using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in a channel on the f plane. In overall agreement with the diabatic heating of the WRF Model, in the omega-equation-based estimates, the maxima of heating appear in the warm sector of the baroclinic wave and in the exit region of the upper-level jet. The omega-equation-based method with spatial smoothing for estimating balanced vertical motion is thus presented as the proper way to evaluate diabatic forcing for parameterization of IGWs.

Free access
Mark Schlutow

Abstract

Stationary gravity waves, such as mountain lee waves, are effectively described by Grimshaw’s dissipative modulation equations even in high altitudes where they become nonlinear due to their large amplitudes. In this theoretical study, a wave-Reynolds number is introduced to characterize general solutions to these modulation equations. This nondimensional number relates the vertical linear group velocity with wavenumber, pressure scale height, and kinematic molecular/eddy viscosity. It is demonstrated by analytic and numerical methods that Lindzen-type waves in the saturation region, that is, where the wave-Reynolds number is of order unity, destabilize by transient perturbations. It is proposed that this mechanism may be a generator for secondary waves due to direct wave–mean-flow interaction. By assumption, the primary waves are exactly such that altitudinal amplitude growth and viscous damping are balanced and by that the amplitude is maximized. Implications of these results on the relation between mean-flow acceleration and wave breaking heights are discussed.

Free access
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.

Open access
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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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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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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