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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
Johnathan J. Metz, Dale R. Durran, and Peter N. Blossey

Abstract

Simulations of the weather over the South Island of New Zealand on 28 July 2014 reveal unusual wave activity in the stratosphere. A series of short-wavelength perturbations resembling trapped lee waves were located downstream of the topography, but these waves were in the stratosphere, and their crests were oriented north–south, in contrast to both the northeast–southwest orientation of the spine of the Southern Alps and the crests of trapped waves present in the lower troposphere. Vertical cross sections through these waves show a nodal structure consistent with that of a higher-order trapped-wave mode. Eigenmode solutions to the vertical structure equation for two-dimensional, linear, Boussinesq waves were obtained for a horizontally homogeneous sounding representative of the 28 July case. These solutions include higher-order modes having large amplitude in the stratosphere that are supported by just the zonal wind component. Two of these higher-order modes correspond to trapped waves that develop in an idealized numerical simulation of the 28 July 2014 case. These higher-order modes are trapped by very strong westerly winds in the midstratosphere and are triggered by north–south-oriented features in the subrange-scale topography. In contrast, the stratospheric cross-mountain wind component is too weak to trap similar high-order modes with crest-parallel orientation.

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Stephen D. Eckermann, James D. Doyle, P. Alex Reinecke, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Ronald B. Smith, David C. Fritts, and Andreas Dörnbrack

Abstract

Gravity wave perturbations in 15-μm nadir radiances from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) informed scientific flight planning for the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE). AIRS observations from 2003 to 2011 identified the South Island of New Zealand during June–July as a “natural laboratory” for observing deep-propagating gravity wave dynamics. Near-real-time AIRS and CrIS gravity wave products monitored wave activity in and around New Zealand continuously within 10 regions of scientific interest, providing nowcast guidance and validation for flight planners. A novel technique used these gravity wave products to validate upstream forecasts of nonorographic gravity waves with 1–2-day lead times, providing time to plan flight intercepts as tropospheric westerlies brought forecast source regions into range. Postanalysis verifies the choice of 15 μm radiances for nowcasting, since 4.3-μm gravity wave products yielded spurious diurnal cycles, provided no altitude sensitivity, and proved relatively insensitive to deep gravity wave activity over the South Island. Comparisons of DEEPWAVE flight tracks with AIRS and CrIS gravity wave maps highlight successful repeated vectoring of the aircraft into regions of deep orographic and nonorographic gravity wave activity, and how background winds control the amplitude of waves in radiance perturbation maps. We discuss how gravity wave information in AIRS and CrIS radiances might be directly assimilated into future operational forecasting systems.

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Qingfang Jiang, James D. Doyle, Stephen D. Eckermann, and Bifford P. Williams

Abstract

Gravity waves are frequently observed in the stratosphere, trailing long distances from mid- to high-latitude topography. Two such trailing-wave events documented over New Zealand are examined using observations, numerical simulations, and ray-tracing analysis to explore and document stratospheric trailing-wave characteristics and formation mechanisms. We find that the trailing waves over New Zealand are orographically generated and regulated by several processes, including interaction between terrain and mountaintop winds, critical-level absorption, and lateral wave refraction. Among these, the interaction between topography and low-level winds determines the perturbation energy distribution over horizontal scales and directions near the wave source, and accordingly, trailing waves are sensitive to terrain features and low-level winds. Terrain-forced wave modes are filtered by absorption associated with directional wind shear and Jones critical levels. The former plays a role in defining wave-beam orientation, and the latter sets an upper limit for the permissible horizontal wavelength of trailing waves. On propagating into the stratosphere, these orographic gravity waves are subject to horizontal refraction associated with the meridional shear in the stratospheric westerlies, which tends to elongate the wave beams pointing toward stronger westerlies and shorten the wave beams on the opposite side.

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Ronald B. Smith and Christopher G. Kruse

Abstract

We propose a simplified scheme to predict mountain wave drag over complex terrain using only the regional-average low-level wind components U and V. The scheme is tuned and tested on data from the South Island of New Zealand, a rough and highly anisotropic terrain. The effect of terrain anisotropy is captured with a hydrostatically computed, 2 × 2 positive-definite wave drag matrix. The wave drag vector is the product of the wind vector and the drag matrix. The nonlinearity in wave generation is captured using a Gaussian terrain smoothing inversely proportional to wind speed. Wind speeds of |U| = 10, 20, and 30 m s−1 give smoothing scales of L = 54, 27, and 18 km, respectively. This smoothing treatment of nonlinearity is consistent with recent aircraft data and high-resolution numerical modeling of waves over New Zealand, indicating that the momentum flux spectra shift to shorter waves during high-drag conditions. The drag matrix model is tested against a 3-month time series of realistic full-physics wave-resolving flow calculations. Correlation coefficients approach 0.9 for both zonal and meridional drag components.

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Stephen D. Eckermann, Jun Ma, Karl W. Hoppel, David D. Kuhl, Douglas R. Allen, James A. Doyle, Kevin C. Viner, Benjamin C. Ruston, Nancy L. Baker, Steven D. Swadley, Timothy R. Whitcomb, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Liang Xu, N. Kaifler, B. Kaifler, Iain M. Reid, Damian J. Murphy, and Peter T. Love

Abstract

A data assimilation system (DAS) is described for global atmospheric reanalysis from 0- to 100-km altitude. We apply it to the 2014 austral winter of the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE), an international field campaign focused on gravity wave dynamics from 0 to 100 km, where an absence of reanalysis above 60 km inhibits research. Four experiments were performed from April to September 2014 and assessed for reanalysis skill above 50 km. A four-dimensional variational (4DVAR) run specified initial background error covariances statically. A hybrid-4DVAR (HYBRID) run formed background error covariances from an 80-member forecast ensemble blended with a static estimate. Each configuration was run at low and high horizontal resolution. In addition to operational observations below 50 km, each experiment assimilated 105 observations of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) every 6 h. While all MLT reanalyses show skill relative to independent wind and temperature measurements, HYBRID outperforms 4DVAR. MLT fields at 1-h resolution (6-h analysis and 1–5-h forecasts) outperform 6-h analysis alone due to a migrating semidiurnal (SW2) tide that dominates MLT dynamics and is temporally aliased in 6-h time series. MLT reanalyses reproduce observed SW2 winds and temperatures, including phase structures and 10–15-day amplitude vacillations. The 0–100-km reanalyses reveal quasi-stationary planetary waves splitting the stratopause jet in July over New Zealand, decaying from 50 to 80 km then reintensifying above 80 km, most likely via MLT forcing due to zonal asymmetries in stratospheric gravity wave filtering.

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Christopher G. Kruse and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

Mountain waves (MWs) are generated during episodic cross-barrier flow over broad-spectrum terrain. However, most MW drag parameterizations neglect transient, broad-spectrum dynamics. Here, the influences of these dynamics on both nondissipative and dissipative momentum deposition by MW events are quantified in a 2D, horizontally periodic idealized framework. The influences of the MW spectrum, vertical wind shear, and forcing duration are investigated. MW events are studied using three numerical models—the nonlinear, transient WRF Model; a linear, quasi-transient Fourier-ray model; and an optimally tuned Lindzen-type saturation parameterization—allowing quantification of total, nondissipative, and dissipative MW-induced decelerations, respectively. Additionally, a pseudomomentum diagnostic is used to estimate nondissipative decelerations within the WRF solutions. For broad-spectrum MWs, vertical dispersion controls spectrum evolution aloft. Short MWs propagate upward quickly and break first at the highest altitudes. Subsequently, the arrival of additional longer MWs allows breaking at lower altitudes because of their greater contribution to u variance. As a result, minimum breaking levels descend with time and event duration. In zero- and positive-shear environments, this descent is not smooth but proceeds downward in steps as a result of vertically recurring steepening levels. Nondissipative decelerations are nonnegligible and influence an MW’s approach to breaking, but breaking and dissipative decelerations quickly develop and dominate the subsequent evolution. Comparison of the three model solutions suggests that the conventional instant propagation and monochromatic parameterization assumptions lead to too much MW drag at too low an altitude.

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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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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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Benjamin Witschas, Stephan Rahm, Andreas Dörnbrack, Johannes Wagner, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

Airborne coherent Doppler wind lidar measurements, acquired during the Gravity Wave Life-Cycle (GW-LCYCLE) I field campaign performed from 2 to 14 December 2013 in Kiruna, Sweden, are used to investigate internal gravity waves (GWs) induced by flow across the Scandinavian Mountains. Vertical wind speed is derived from lidar measurements with a mean bias of less than 0.05 m s−1 and a standard deviation of 0.2 m s−1 by correcting horizontal wind projections onto the line-of-sight direction by means of ECMWF wind data. The horizontal wind speed and direction are retrieved from lidar measurements by applying a velocity–azimuth display scan and a spectral accumulation technique, leading to a horizontal resolution of about 9 km along the flight track and a vertical resolution of 100 m, respectively. Both vertical and horizontal wind measurements are valuable for characterizing GW properties as demonstrated by means of a flight performed on 13 December 2013 acquired during weather conditions favorable for orographic GW excitation. Wavelet power spectra of the vertical wind speed indicate that the horizontal GW wavelengths lay mainly between 10 and 30 km and that the GW amplitude above the mountain ridge decreases with increasing altitude. Additionally, the perturbations of the horizontal wind speed are analyzed, showing horizontal wavelengths in the excitation region of 100–125 km with upwind-tilted wave fronts. By means of elevation power spectra, it is revealed that vertical wind power spectra are dominated by the short-wave elevation part, whereas horizontal wind perturbations are dominated by the long-wave part.

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