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Gabriel Wolf and Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

Upper-tropospheric Rossby wave packets have received increased attention recently. In most previous studies wave packets have been detected by computing the envelope of the meridional wind field using either complex demodulation or a Hilbert transform. The latter requires fewer choices to be made and appears, therefore, preferable. However, the Hilbert transform is fraught with a significant problem, namely, a tendency that fragments a single wave packet into several parts. The problem arises because Rossby wave packets show substantial deviations from the almost-plane wave paradigm, a feature that is well represented by semigeostrophic dynamics. As a consequence, higher harmonics interfere with the reconstruction of the wave envelope leading to undesirable wiggles. A possible cure lies in additional smoothing (e.g., by means of a filter) or resorting to complex demodulation (which implies smoothing, too). Another possibility, which does not imply any smoothing, lies in applying the Hilbert transform in semigeostrophic coordinate space. It turns out beneficial to exclude planetary-scale wavenumbers from this transformation in order to avoid problems in cases when the wave packet travels on a low wavenumber quasi-stationary background flow.

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Gabriel Wolf and Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

It has been suggested that upper-tropospheric Rossby wave packets propagating along the midlatitude waveguide may play a role for triggering severe weather. This motivates the search for robust methods to detect and track Rossby wave packets and to diagnose their properties. In the framework of several observed cases, this paper compares different methods that have been proposed for these tasks, with an emphasis on horizontal propagation and on a particular formulation of a wave activity flux previously suggested by Takaya and Nakamura. The utility of this flux is compromised by the semigeostrophic nature of upper-tropospheric Rossby waves, but this problem can partly be overcome by a semigeostrophic coordinate transformation. The wave activity flux allows one to obtain information from a single snapshot about the meridional propagation, in particular propagation from or into polar and subtropical latitudes, as well as about the onset of wave breaking. This helps to clarify the dynamics of individual wave packets in cases where other, more conventional methods provide ambiguous or even misleading information. In some cases, the “true dynamics” of the Rossby wave packet turns out to be more complex than apparent from the more conventional diagnostics, and this may have important implications for the predictability of the wave packet.

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Andrea Schneidereit, Dieter H. W. Peters, Christian M. Grams, Julian F. Quinting, Julia H. Keller, Gabriel Wolf, Franziska Teubler, Michael Riemer, and Olivia Martius

Abstract

Tropospheric forcing of planetary wavenumber 2 is examined in the prephase of the major stratospheric sudden warming event in January 2009 (MSSW 2009). Because of a huge increase in Eliassen–Palm fluxes induced mainly by wavenumber 2, easterly angular momentum is transported into the Arctic stratosphere, deposited, and then decelerates the polar night jet. In agreement with earlier studies, the results reveal that the strongest eddy heat fluxes, associated with wavenumber 2, occur at 100 hPa during the prephase of MSSW 2009 in ERA-Interim. In addition, moderate conditions of the cold phase of ENSO (La Niña) contribute to the eddy heat flux anomaly. It is shown that enhanced tropospheric wave forcing over Alaska and Scandinavia is caused by tropical processes in two ways. First, in a climatological sense, La Niña contributes to an enhanced anticyclonic flow over both regions. Second, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has an indirect influence on the Alaskan ridge by enhancing eddy activity over the North Pacific. This is manifested in an increase in cyclone frequency and associated warm conveyor belt outflow, which contribute to the maintenance and amplification of the Alaskan anticyclone. The Scandinavian ridge is maintained by wave trains emanating from the Alaskan ridge propagating eastward, including an enhanced transport of eddy kinetic energy. The MSSW 2009 is an extraordinary case of how a beneficial phasing of La Niña and MJO conditions together with multiscale interactions enhances tropospheric forcing for wavenumber 2–induced zonal mean eddy heat flux in the lower stratosphere.

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