Articles | Volume 14, issue 7
Research article
02 Apr 2014
Research article |  | 02 Apr 2014

Atmospheric waves as scaling, turbulent phenomena

J. Pinel and S. Lovejoy

Abstract. It is paradoxical that, while atmospheric dynamics are highly nonlinear and turbulent, atmospheric waves are commonly modelled by linear or weakly nonlinear theories. We postulate that the laws governing atmospheric waves are in fact high-Reynolds-number (Re), emergent laws so that – in common with the emergent high-Re turbulent laws – they are also constrained by scaling symmetries. We propose an effective turbulence–wave propagator which corresponds to a fractional and anisotropic extension of the classical wave equation propagator, with dispersion relations similar to those of inertial gravity waves (and Kelvin waves) yet with an anomalous (fractional) order Hwav/2. Using geostationary IR radiances, we estimate the parameters, finding that Hwav ≈ 0.17 ± 0.04 (the classical value = 2).

Final-revised paper