Articles | Volume 16, issue 24
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 15755–15775, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-15755-2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 15755–15775, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-15755-2016

Research article 21 Dec 2016

Research article | 21 Dec 2016

Influence of the spatial distribution of gravity wave activity on the middle atmospheric dynamics

Petr Šácha1, Friederike Lilienthal2, Christoph Jacobi2, and Petr Pišoft1 Petr Šácha et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, V Holesovickach 2, 180 00 Prague 8, Czech Republic
  • 2Institute for Meteorology, University of Leipzig, Stephanstr. 3, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. Analysing GPS radio occultation density profiles, we have recently pointed out a localised area of enhanced gravity wave (GW) activity and breaking in the lower stratosphere of the east Asian–northwestern Pacific (EA/NP) region. With a mechanistic model of the middle and upper atmosphere, experiments are performed to study the possible effect of such a localised GW breaking region on large-scale circulation and transport and, more generally, a possible influence of the spatial distribution of gravity wave activity on middle atmospheric dynamics.

The results indicate the important role of the spatial distribution of GW activity for polar vortex stability, formation of planetary waves and for the strength and structure of zonal-mean residual circulation. Furthermore, a possible effect of a zonally asymmetric GW breaking in the longitudinal variability of the Brewer–Dobson circulation is analysed. Finally, consequences of our results for a variety of research topics (e.g. sudden stratospheric warming, atmospheric blocking, teleconnection patterns and a compensation mechanism between resolved and unresolved drag) are discussed.

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Short summary
With a mechanistic model for the middle and upper atmosphere we performed sensitivity simulations to study a possible impact of a localized GW breaking hotspot in the eastern Asia–northern Pacific region and also the possible influence of the spatial distribution of gravity wave activity on the middle atmospheric circulation and transport. We show implications for polar vortex stability, in situ PW generation and longitudinal variability and strength of the Brewer–Dobson circulation.
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