Observations of a Stationary Mountain Wave and its Associated Momentum Flux and Energy Dissipation

D. K. Lilly National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colo. 80302

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P. J. Kennedy National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colo. 80302

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Abstract

Analysis is presented of data obtained from instrumented aircraft flying in a mountain wave of moderate amplitude west of Denver, Colo., on 17 February 1970. Emphasis is placed on determination of the downward flux of westerly momentum generated by the wave, for which accurate measurements of vertical velocities on scales of order 50 km are essential. Three different methods are applied and compared: direct aircraft measurement, using vanes and an inertial platform; evaluation from the steady-state equation for conservation of potential temperature; and integration of the steady-state continuity equation. Each method produces errors, but by combining the results of the three methods a profile is obtained which agrees. fairly well with a steady-state theoretical prediction. An important side result is the discovery that gust-probe equipment is apparently not necessary for the direct aircraft measurement of wave momentum flux, but an inertial platform or similarly stable attitude reference level is essential.

A region of severe turbulence at 100 mb is found to he associated with the source of most of the downward wave momentum flux. Measurements of the loss of total energy along isentropes are found to he consistent with kinetic energy losses estimated from momentum flux divergence and with energy dissipation estimated from inertial-range aircraft measurements of the turbulent energy spectrum.

Abstract

Analysis is presented of data obtained from instrumented aircraft flying in a mountain wave of moderate amplitude west of Denver, Colo., on 17 February 1970. Emphasis is placed on determination of the downward flux of westerly momentum generated by the wave, for which accurate measurements of vertical velocities on scales of order 50 km are essential. Three different methods are applied and compared: direct aircraft measurement, using vanes and an inertial platform; evaluation from the steady-state equation for conservation of potential temperature; and integration of the steady-state continuity equation. Each method produces errors, but by combining the results of the three methods a profile is obtained which agrees. fairly well with a steady-state theoretical prediction. An important side result is the discovery that gust-probe equipment is apparently not necessary for the direct aircraft measurement of wave momentum flux, but an inertial platform or similarly stable attitude reference level is essential.

A region of severe turbulence at 100 mb is found to he associated with the source of most of the downward wave momentum flux. Measurements of the loss of total energy along isentropes are found to he consistent with kinetic energy losses estimated from momentum flux divergence and with energy dissipation estimated from inertial-range aircraft measurements of the turbulent energy spectrum.

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