Global analysis for periodic variations in gravity wave squared amplitudes and momentum fluxes in the middle atmosphere

Chen, Dan; Strube, Cornelia; Ern, Manfred; Preusse, Peter; Riese, Martin

Atmospheric gravity waves (GWs) are an important coupling mechanism in the middle atmosphere. For instance, they provide a large part of the driving of long-period atmospheric oscillations such as the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) and the semiannual oscillation (SAO) and are in turn modulated. They also induce the wind reversal in the mesosphere–lower thermosphere region (MLT) and the residual mean circulation at these altitudes. In this study, the variations in monthly zonal mean gravity wave square temperature amplitudes (GWSTAs) and, for the first time, absolute gravity wave momentum flux (GWMF) on different timescales such as the annual, semiannual, terannual and quasi-biennial variations are investigated by spectrally analyzing SABER observations from 2002 to 2015. Latitude–altitude cross sections of spectral amplitudes and phases of GWSTA and absolute GWMF in the stratosphere and mesosphere are presented and physically interpreted. It is shown that the time series of GWSTA and GWMF at a certain altitude and latitude results from the complex interplay of GW sources, propagation through and filtering in lower altitudes, oblique propagation superposing GWs from different source locations, and, finally, the modulation of the GW spectrum by the winds at a considered altitude and latitude. The strongest component is the annual variation, dominated in the summer hemisphere by subtropical convective sources and in the winter hemisphere by polar vortex dynamics. At heights of the wind reversal, a 180 phase shift also occurs, which is at different altitudes for GWSTA and GWMF. In the intermediate latitudes a semiannual variation (SAV) is found. Dedicated GW modeling is used to investigate the nature of this SAV, which is a different phenomenon from the tropical SAO also seen in the data. In the tropics a stratospheric and a mesospheric QBO are found, which are, as expected, in antiphase. Indication for a QBO influence is also found at higher latitudes. In previous studies a terannual variation (TAV) was identified. In the current study we explain its origin. In particular the observed patterns for the shorter periods, SAV and TAV, can only be explained by poleward propagation of GWs from the lower-stratosphere subtropics into the midlatitude and high-latitude mesosphere. In this way, critical wind filtering in the lowermost stratosphere is avoided and this oblique propagation is hence likely an important factor for MLT dynamics.

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Chen, Dan / Strube, Cornelia / Ern, Manfred / et al: Global analysis for periodic variations in gravity wave squared amplitudes and momentum fluxes in the middle atmosphere. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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