The role of linear wave interaction in facilitating the upward propagation of ducted small-scale gravity waves.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Christopher James Heale, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, United States and Jonathan B Snively, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ, Daytona Beach, FL, United States
Short-period (~5-15 minute), small-scale (10s of km) gravity waves propagating through the middle atmosphere will encounter and interact with other atmospheric waves and flows, which can vary horizontally, vertically, and temporally across a wide range of scales. Simulations of gravity wave impacts over global scales generally consider vertical propagation and atmospheric variations, and neglect small scale wave reflection and interactions between waves of different scales and the time dependent background atmosphere [e.g., Fritts and Alexander, Rev. Geo., 41, 1, 2003, and references cited therein]. Short period gravity waves , which are often subject to reflection, nevertheless carry significant momentum through the atmosphere [Hines, 1997, J. Atmos. Sol. Terr. Phys., 59].
Prior studies have investigated gravity wave propagation through horizontally sheared winds [e.g., Basovich and Tsimring, J. Fluid. Mech., 142, 1984], or in altitude and time varying backgrounds [e.g., Broutman and Young, J. Fluid. Mech., 166, 1986]. Senf and Achatz [JGR, 116, D24, 2011, and references cited therein] have also considered propagation through vertically, horizontally, and temporally varying background winds, finding significant reduction of dissipation by critical levels. We here use a combination of 2D numerical simulations and ray-tracing to study the effects of medium scale background wave wind fields on the upward propagation of small-scale, short-period waves. In particular, we consider cases where the short-period waves would be classically reflected or ducted in static realistic background temperature and wind structures. Results suggest an important role for medium-scale temporal and spatial atmospheric variability in reducing the strength of reflections and facilitating the upward propagation of small-scale waves.