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Claudia C. Stephan, M. Joan Alexander, Michael Hedlin, Catherine D. de Groot-Hedlin, and Lars Hoffmann

Abstract

Mesoscale gravity waves were observed by barometers deployed as part of the USArray Transportable Array on 29 June 2011 near two mesoscale convective systems in the Great Plains region of the United States. Simultaneously, AIRS satellite data indicated stratospheric gravity waves propagating away from the location of active convection. Peak perturbation pressure values associated with waves propagating outside of regions where there was precipitation reached amplitudes close to 400 Pa at the surface. Here the origins of the waves and their relationship to observed precipitation are investigated with a specialized model study. Simulations with a 4-km resolution dry numerical model reproduce the propagation characteristics and amplitudes of the observed waves with a high degree of quantitative similarity despite the absence of any boundary layer processes, surface topography, or moist physics in the model. The model is forced with a three-dimensional, time-dependent latent heating/cooling field that mimics the latent heating inside the precipitation systems. The heating is derived from the network of weather radar precipitation observations. This shows that deep, intense latent heat release within the precipitation systems is the key forcing mechanism for the waves observed at ground level by the USArray. Furthermore, the model simulations allow for a more detailed investigation of the vertical structure and propagation characteristics of the waves. It is found that the stratospheric and tropospheric waves are triggered by the same sources, but have different spectral properties. Results also suggest that the propagating tropospheric waves may potentially remotely interact with and enhance active precipitation.

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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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