The Influence of Gravity Wave Breaking on the General Circulation of the Middle Atmosphere

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
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Abstract

The zonal mean solstice circulation of the global middle atmosphere is simulated using a semi-spectral numerical model. Radiative heating and cooling is computed by the algorithm of Wehrbein and Leovy. Mechanical dissipation is represented by the gravity wave breaking parameterization of Lindzen. An inertial adjustment parameterization is used to prevent the development of inertially unstable meridional shears near the equator. It is shown that gravity wave drag and diffusion in the mesosphere can account for the observed large departure from radiative equilibrium in both summer and winter.

Experiments incorporating a forced stationary wavenumber 1 disturbance indicate that planetary wave EP flux convergences although they may modify the mean flow profile significantly, cannot provide the major source of mechanical dissipation in the winter mesosphere.

A simulated sudden warming is accompanied by an equally strong mesospheric cooling. This cooling is caused primarily by the relaxation of the polar mesosphere toward radiative equilibrium when the easterly mean winds in the polar stratosphere induced by the sudden warming reduce the transmission of gravity waves into the mesosphere.

Abstract

The zonal mean solstice circulation of the global middle atmosphere is simulated using a semi-spectral numerical model. Radiative heating and cooling is computed by the algorithm of Wehrbein and Leovy. Mechanical dissipation is represented by the gravity wave breaking parameterization of Lindzen. An inertial adjustment parameterization is used to prevent the development of inertially unstable meridional shears near the equator. It is shown that gravity wave drag and diffusion in the mesosphere can account for the observed large departure from radiative equilibrium in both summer and winter.

Experiments incorporating a forced stationary wavenumber 1 disturbance indicate that planetary wave EP flux convergences although they may modify the mean flow profile significantly, cannot provide the major source of mechanical dissipation in the winter mesosphere.

A simulated sudden warming is accompanied by an equally strong mesospheric cooling. This cooling is caused primarily by the relaxation of the polar mesosphere toward radiative equilibrium when the easterly mean winds in the polar stratosphere induced by the sudden warming reduce the transmission of gravity waves into the mesosphere.

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