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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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Gergely Bölöni, Young-Ha Kim, Sebastian Borchert, and Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

Current gravity wave (GW) parameterization (GWP) schemes are using the steady-state assumption, in which an instantaneous balance between GWs and mean flow is postulated, thereby neglecting transient, nondissipative interactions between the GW field and the resolved flow. These schemes rely exclusively on wave dissipation, by GW breaking or near critical layers, as a mechanism leading to forcing of the mean flow. In a transient GWP, without the steady-state assumption, nondissipative wave–mean-flow interactions are enabled as an additional mechanism. Idealized studies have shown that this is potentially important, and therefore the transient GWP Multiscale Gravity Wave Model (MS-GWaM) has been implemented into a state-of-the-art weather and climate model. In this implementation, MS-GWaM leads to a zonal-mean circulation that agrees well with observations and increases GW momentum-flux intermittency as compared with steady-state GWPs, bringing it into better agreement with superpressure balloon observations. Transient effects taken into account by MS-GWaM are shown to make a difference even on monthly time scales: in comparison with steady-state GWPs momentum fluxes in the lower stratosphere are increased and the amount of missing drag at Southern Hemispheric high latitudes is decreased to a modest but nonnegligible extent. An analysis of the contribution of different wavelengths to the GW signal in MS-GWaM suggests that small-scale GWs play an important role down to horizontal and vertical wavelengths of 50 km (or even smaller) and 200 m, respectively.

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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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Young-Ha Kim, Gergely Bölöni, Sebastian Borchert, Hye-Yeong Chun, and Ulrich Achatz

Abstract

In a companion paper, the Multiscale Gravity Wave Model (MS-GWaM) has been introduced and its application to a global model as a transient subgrid-scale parameterization has been described. This paper focuses on the examination of intermittency of gravity waves (GWs) modeled by MS-GWaM. To introduce the variability and intermittency in wave sources, convective GW sources are formulated, using diabatic heating diagnosed by the convection parameterization, and they are coupled to MS-GWaM in addition to a flow-independent source in the extratropics accounting for GWs due neither to convection nor to orography. The probability density function (PDF) and Gini index for GW pseudomomentum fluxes are assessed to investigate the intermittency. Both are similar to those from observations in the lower stratosphere. The intermittency of GWs over tropical convection is quite high and is found not to change much in the vertical direction. In the extratropics, where nonconvective GWs dominate, the intermittency is lower than that in the tropics in the stratosphere and comparable to that in the mesosphere, exhibiting a gradual increase with altitude. The PDFs in these latitudes seem to be close to the lognormal distributions. Effects of transient GW–mean-flow interactions on the simulated GW intermittency are assessed by performing additional simulations using the steady-state assumption in the GW parameterization. The intermittency of parameterized GWs over tropical convection is found to be overestimated by the assumption, whereas in the extratropics it is largely underrepresented. Explanation and discussion of these effects are included.

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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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