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Norman Wildmann, Ramona Eckert, Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Markus Rapp, Klaus Ohlmann, and Annelize van Niekerk

Abstract

A Stemme S10-VT motor glider was equipped with a newly developed sensor suite consisting of a five-hole probe, an inertial navigation and global navigation satellite system, two temperature sensors, and a humidity sensor. By design, the system provides three-dimensional wind vector data that enable the analysis of atmospheric motion scales up to a temporal resolution of 10 Hz. We give a description of components and installation of the system, its calibration, and its performance. The accuracy for the measurement of the wind vector is estimated to be on the order of 0.5 m s−1. As part of the Southern Hemisphere Transport, Dynamics, and Chemistry (SouthTRAC) field campaign, 30 research flights were performed from September 2019 to January 2020. We present statistical analysis of the observations, discriminating pure motor flights from soaring flights in the lee waves of the Andes. We present histograms of flight altitude, airspeed, wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity to document the atmospheric conditions. Probability density functions of vertical air velocity, turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), and dissipation rate complete the statistical analysis. Altogether, 41% of the flights are in weak, 14% in moderate, and 0.4% in strong mountain wave conditions according to thresholds for the measured vertical air velocity. As an exemplary case study, we compare measurements on 11 September 2019 to a high-resolution numerical weather prediction model. The case study provides a meaningful example of how data from soaring flights might be utilized for model validation on the mesoscale and within the troposphere.

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Benedikt Ehard, Peggy Achtert, Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Jörg Gumbel, Mikhail Khaplanov, Markus Rapp, and Johannes Wagner

Abstract

The paper presents a feasible method to complement ground-based middle atmospheric Rayleigh lidar temperature observations with numerical simulations in the lower stratosphere and troposphere to study gravity waves. Validated mesoscale numerical simulations are utilized to complement the temperature below 30-km altitude. For this purpose, high-temporal-resolution output of the numerical results was interpolated on the position of the lidar in the lee of the Scandinavian mountain range. Two wintertime cases of orographically induced gravity waves are analyzed. Wave parameters are derived using a wavelet analysis of the combined dataset throughout the entire altitude range from the troposphere to the mesosphere. Although similar in the tropospheric forcings, both cases differ in vertical propagation. The combined dataset reveals stratospheric wave breaking for one case, whereas the mountain waves in the other case could propagate up to about 40-km altitude. The lidar observations reveal an interaction of the vertically propagating gravity waves with the stratopause, leading to a stratopause descent in both cases.

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Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Michael C. Pitts, Lamont R. Poole, and Marion Maturilli

Abstract

The presented picture of the month is a superposition of spaceborne lidar observations and high-resolution temperature fields of the ECMWF Integrated Forecast System (IFS). It displays complex tropospheric and stratospheric clouds in the Arctic winter of 2015/16. Near the end of December 2015, the unusual northeastward propagation of warm and humid subtropical air masses as far north as 80°N lifted the tropopause by more than 3 km in 24 h and cooled the stratosphere on a large scale. A widespread formation of thick cirrus clouds near the tropopause and of synoptic-scale polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) occurred as the temperature dropped below the thresholds for the existence of cloud particles. Additionally, mountain waves were excited by the strong flow at the western edge of the ridge across Svalbard, leading to the formation of mesoscale ice PSCs. The most recent IFS cycle using a horizontal resolution of 8 km globally reproduces the large-scale and mesoscale flow features and leads to a remarkable agreement with the wave structure revealed by the spaceborne observations.

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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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Christopher G. Kruse, M. Joan Alexander, Lars Hoffmann, Annelize van Niekerk, Inna Polichtchouk, Julio T. Bacmeister, Laura Holt, Riwal Plougonven, Petr Šácha, Corwin Wright, Kaoru Sato, Ryosuke Shibuya, Sonja Gisinger, Manfred Ern, Catrin I. Meyer, and Olaf Stein

Abstract

Four state-of-the-science numerical weather prediction (NWP) models were used to perform mountain wave (MW)-resolving hindcasts over the Drake Passage of a 10-day period in 2010 with numerous observed MW cases. The Integrated Forecast System (IFS) and the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic (ICON) model were run at Δx ≈ 9 and 13 km globally. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and the Met Office Unified Model (UM) were both configured with a Δx = 3-km regional domain. All domains had tops near 1 Pa (z ≈ 80 km). These deep domains allowed quantitative validation against Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) observations, accounting for observation time, viewing geometry, and radiative transfer. All models reproduced observed middle-atmosphere MWs with remarkable skill. Increased horizontal resolution improved validations. Still, all models underrepresented observed MW amplitudes, even after accounting for model effective resolution and instrument noise, suggesting even at Δx ≈ 3-km resolution, small-scale MWs are underresolved and/or overdiffused. MW drag parameterizations are still necessary in NWP models at current operational resolutions of Δx ≈ 10 km. Upper GW sponge layers in the operationally configured models significantly, artificially reduced MW amplitudes in the upper stratosphere and mesosphere. In the IFS, parameterized GW drags partly compensated this deficiency, but still, total drags were ≈6 times smaller than that resolved at Δx ≈ 3 km. Meridionally propagating MWs significantly enhance zonal drag over the Drake Passage. Interestingly, drag associated with meridional fluxes of zonal momentum (i.e., uυ¯) were important; not accounting for these terms results in a drag in the wrong direction at and below the polar night jet.

Significance Statement

This study had three purposes: to quantitatively evaluate how well four state-of-the-science weather models could reproduce observed mountain waves (MWs) in the middle atmosphere, to compare the simulated MWs within the models, and to quantitatively evaluate two MW parameterizations in a widely used climate model. These models reproduced observed MWs with remarkable skill. Still, MW parameterizations are necessary in current Δx ≈ 10-km resolution global weather models. Even Δx ≈ 3-km resolution does not appear to be high enough to represent all momentum-fluxing MW scales. Meridionally propagating MWs can significantly influence zonal winds over the Drake Passage. Parameterizations that handle horizontal propagation may need to consider horizontal fluxes of horizontal momentum in order to get the direction of their forcing correct.

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Markus Rapp, Bernd Kaifler, Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Tyler Mixa, Robert Reichert, Natalie Kaifler, Stefanie Knobloch, Ramona Eckert, Norman Wildmann, Andreas Giez, Lukas Krasauskas, Peter Preusse, Markus Geldenhuys, Martin Riese, Wolfgang Woiwode, Felix Friedl-Vallon, Björn-Martin Sinnhuber, Alejandro de la Torre, Peter Alexander, Jose Luis Hormaechea, Diego Janches, Markus Garhammer, Jorge L. Chau, J. Federico Conte, Peter Hoor, and Andreas Engel

Abstract

The southern part of South America and the Antarctic peninsula are known as the world’s strongest hotspot region of stratospheric gravity wave (GW) activity. Large tropospheric winds are deflected by the Andes and the Antarctic Peninsula and excite GWs that might propagate into the upper mesosphere. Satellite observations show large stratospheric GW activity above the mountains, the Drake Passage, and in a belt centered along 60°S. This scientifically highly interesting region for studying GW dynamics was the focus of the Southern Hemisphere Transport, Dynamics, and Chemistry–Gravity Waves (SOUTHTRAC-GW) mission. The German High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) was deployed to Rio Grande at the southern tip of Argentina in September 2019. Seven dedicated research flights with a typical length of 7,000 km were conducted to collect GW observations with the novel Airborne Lidar for Middle Atmosphere research (ALIMA) instrument and the Gimballed Limb Observer for Radiance Imaging of the Atmosphere (GLORIA) limb sounder. While ALIMA measures temperatures in the altitude range from 20 to 90 km, GLORIA observations allow characterization of temperatures and trace gas mixing ratios from 5 to 15 km. Wave perturbations are derived by subtracting suitable mean profiles. This paper summarizes the motivations and objectives of the SOUTHTRAC-GW mission. The evolution of the atmospheric conditions is documented including the effect of the extraordinary Southern Hemisphere sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) that occurred in early September 2019. Moreover, outstanding initial results of the GW observation and plans for future work are presented.

Open access
David C. Fritts, Ronald B. Smith, Michael J. Taylor, James D. Doyle, Stephen D. Eckermann, Andreas Dörnbrack, Markus Rapp, Bifford P. Williams, P.-Dominique Pautet, Katrina Bossert, Neal R. Criddle, Carolyn A. Reynolds, P. Alex Reinecke, Michael Uddstrom, Michael J. Revell, Richard Turner, Bernd Kaifler, Johannes S. Wagner, Tyler Mixa, Christopher G. Kruse, Alison D. Nugent, Campbell D. Watson, Sonja Gisinger, Steven M. Smith, Ruth S. Lieberman, Brian Laughman, James J. Moore, William O. Brown, Julie A. Haggerty, Alison Rockwell, Gregory J. Stossmeister, Steven F. Williams, Gonzalo Hernandez, Damian J. Murphy, Andrew R. Klekociuk, Iain M. Reid, and Jun Ma

Abstract

The Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) was designed to quantify gravity wave (GW) dynamics and effects from orographic and other sources to regions of dissipation at high altitudes. The core DEEPWAVE field phase took place from May through July 2014 using a comprehensive suite of airborne and ground-based instruments providing measurements from Earth’s surface to ∼100 km. Austral winter was chosen to observe deep GW propagation to high altitudes. DEEPWAVE was based on South Island, New Zealand, to provide access to the New Zealand and Tasmanian “hotspots” of GW activity and additional GW sources over the Southern Ocean and Tasman Sea. To observe GWs up to ∼100 km, DEEPWAVE utilized three new instruments built specifically for the National Science Foundation (NSF)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Gulfstream V (GV): a Rayleigh lidar, a sodium resonance lidar, and an advanced mesosphere temperature mapper. These measurements were supplemented by in situ probes, dropsondes, and a microwave temperature profiler on the GV and by in situ probes and a Doppler lidar aboard the German DLR Falcon. Extensive ground-based instrumentation and radiosondes were deployed on South Island, Tasmania, and Southern Ocean islands. Deep orographic GWs were a primary target but multiple flights also observed deep GWs arising from deep convection, jet streams, and frontal systems. Highlights include the following: 1) strong orographic GW forcing accompanying strong cross-mountain flows, 2) strong high-altitude responses even when orographic forcing was weak, 3) large-scale GWs at high altitudes arising from jet stream sources, and 4) significant flight-level energy fluxes and often very large momentum fluxes at high altitudes.

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