Lee wave detection over the Mediterranean Sea using the Advanced Infra-Red WAter Vapour Estimator (AIRWAVE) total column water vapour (TCWV) dataset

Papandrea, Enzo; Casadio, Stefano; Castelli, Elisa; Dinelli, Bianca Maria; Miglietta, Mario Marcello

Atmospheric gravity waves generated downstream by orography in a stratified airflow are known as lee waves. In the present study, such mesoscale patterns have been detected, over water and in clear-sky conditions, using the Advanced Infra-Red WAter Vapour Estimator (AIRWAVE) total column water vapour (TCWV) dataset, which contains about 20 years of day and night products, obtained from the thermal infrared measurements of the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) instrument series. The high accuracy of such data, along with the native 1 km×1 km spatial resolution, allows the investigation of small-scale features such as lee waves. In this work, we focused on the Mediterranean Sea, the largest semi-enclosed basin on the Earth. The peculiarities of this area, which is characterised by complex orography and rough coastlines, lead to the development of these structures over both land and sea. We developed an automatic tool for the rapid detection of areas with high probability of lee wave occurrence, exploiting the TCWV variability in spatial regions with a 0.15×0.15 area. Through this analysis, several occurrences of structures connected with lee waves have been observed. The waves are detected in spring, autumn and summer seasons, with TCWV values usually falling in the range of 15 to 35 kg m−2. In this article, we describe some cases over the central (Italy) and the Eastern Mediterranean Basin (Greece, Turkey and Cyprus). We compared a case of perturbed AIRWAVE TCWV fields due to lee waves occurring over the Tyrrhenian Sea on 18 July 1997 with the sea surface winds from the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which sounded the same geographical area, finding a good agreement. Another case has been investigated in detail: on 2 August 2002 the Aegean Sea region was almost simultaneously sounded by both the second sensor of the ATSR series (ATSR-2) and the Advanced ATSR (AATSR) instruments. The AIRWAVE TCWV fields derived from the two sensors were successfully compared with the vertically integrated water vapour content simulated with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) numerical model for the same time period, confirming our findings. Wave parameters such as amplitude, wavelength and phase are described through the use of the Morlet continuous wavelet transformation (CWT). The performed analysis derived typical wavelengths from 6 to 8 km and amplitudes of up to 20 kg m−2.

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Papandrea, Enzo / Casadio, Stefano / Castelli, Elisa / et al: Lee wave detection over the Mediterranean Sea using the Advanced Infra-Red WAter Vapour Estimator (AIRWAVE) total column water vapour (TCWV) dataset. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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