Propagation and Selective Transmission of Internal Gravity Waves in a Sudden Warming

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  • 1 Physical Dynamics, Inc., Bellevue, WA 98009
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
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Abstract

Longitudinally asymmetric features of gravity wave propagation in a sudden warming are examined theoretically, using observed geostrophic wind fields in the stratosphere for three days of winter 1979. It is shown that the wind patterns accompanying a sudden warming act to reduce, but not eliminate, quasi-stationary gravity wave propagation to the mesosphere. The onset of large-amplitude planetary waves leads to the formation of propagating zones and forbidden zones for gravity waves of intermediate horizontal scale (50–200 km). Lateral ray movement and horizontal refraction are secondary but observable effects for these waves.

To the extent that these waves are excited isotropically in the troposphere, it is possible to evaluate the direction and magnitude of the average wavevector reaching the mesosphere as follows. Stationary waves with wavevector orthogonal to the local mean flow are selectively absorbed in the stratosphere, implying that for these waves the average wavevector transmitted to the mesosphere is antiparallel to the average of the mean flow orientation extrema in the underlying stratosphere.

Abstract

Longitudinally asymmetric features of gravity wave propagation in a sudden warming are examined theoretically, using observed geostrophic wind fields in the stratosphere for three days of winter 1979. It is shown that the wind patterns accompanying a sudden warming act to reduce, but not eliminate, quasi-stationary gravity wave propagation to the mesosphere. The onset of large-amplitude planetary waves leads to the formation of propagating zones and forbidden zones for gravity waves of intermediate horizontal scale (50–200 km). Lateral ray movement and horizontal refraction are secondary but observable effects for these waves.

To the extent that these waves are excited isotropically in the troposphere, it is possible to evaluate the direction and magnitude of the average wavevector reaching the mesosphere as follows. Stationary waves with wavevector orthogonal to the local mean flow are selectively absorbed in the stratosphere, implying that for these waves the average wavevector transmitted to the mesosphere is antiparallel to the average of the mean flow orientation extrema in the underlying stratosphere.

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