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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-121
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-121
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 09 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Airborne measurements and large-eddy simulations of small-scale Gravity Waves at the tropopause inversion layer over Scandinavia

Sonja Gisinger, Johannes Wagner, and Benjamin Witschas Sonja Gisinger et al.
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Abstract. Coordinated airborne measurements were performed by the two research aircraft DLR Falcon and HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Aircraft) in Scandinavia during the GW-LCYCLE~II (Investigation of the life cycle of gravity waves) campaign in 2016 to investigate gravity wave processes in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) region. A mountain wave event was probed over Southern Scandinavia on 28 January 2016. The collected dataset constitutes a valuable combination of in-situ measurements and horizontal- and altitude-resolved wind lidar and water vapour lidar measurements. In-situ data at different flight altitudes and downward pointing Doppler wind lidar measurements show pronounced changes of the horizontal scales in the vertical velocity field and of the leg-averaged momentum fluxes (MF) in the UTLS region. The vertical velocity field was dominated by small horizontal scales with a decrease from around 20 km to < 10 km in the vicinity of the tropopause inversion layer (TIL). These small scales were also found in the water vapour and reflectivity data. The MF profile downstream of the main mountain ridge determined from the wind lidar data is characterized by negative fluxes below and positive fluxes above the TIL which show similar magnitudes. The combination of the observations and idealized large-eddy simulations (LES) revealed the occurrence of interfacial waves on the tropopause inversion during the MW event. Such interfacial waves have already been observed on boundary-layer inversions but their concept has not been applied to tropopause inversions so far. Our idealized simulations revealed that interfacial waves can occur also on tropopause inversions and our analyses of the horizontal- and altitude-resolved airborne observations revealed that they actually do. As predicted by linear theory, the horizontal scale of those waves is determined by the wind and stability conditions above the inversion. They are found downstream of the main mountain peaks and their characteristic MF profile clearly distinguishes from the MF profile of a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. Further, the idealized large-eddy simulations revealed that the presence of the TIL is crucial in producing this kind of trapped waves at tropopause altitude. mountainous regions.

Sonja Gisinger et al.

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Sonja Gisinger et al.

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Latest update: 24 May 2020
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Short summary
Gravity waves are an important coupling mechanism in the atmosphere. Measurements by two research aircraft during a mountain wave event over Scandinavia in 2016 revealed changes of the horizontal scales in the vertical velocity field and of momentum fluxes in the vicinity of the tropopause inversion. Idealized simulations revealed the presence of interfacial waves. They are found downstream of the mountain peaks meaning that they horizontally transport momentum/energy away from their source.
Gravity waves are an important coupling mechanism in the atmosphere. Measurements by two...
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