22 Mar 2021

22 Mar 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Propagation Paths and Source Distributions of Resolved Gravity Waves in ECMWF-IFS analysis fields around the Southern Polar Night Jet

Cornelia Strube, Peter Preusse, Manfred Ern, and Martin Riese Cornelia Strube et al.
  • Institut für Energie- und Klimaforschung – Stratosphäre (IEK–7), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany

Abstract. In the southern winter polar stratosphere the distribution of gravity wave momentum flux in many state-of-the-art climate simulations is inconsistent with long-time satellite and superpressure balloon observations around 60° S. Recent studies hint that a lateral shift between prominent gravity wave sources in the tropospheric mid-latitudes and the location where gravity wave activity is present in the stratosphere causes at least parts of the discrepancy. This lateral shift cannot be represented by the column-based gravity wave drag parametrisations used in most general circulation models. However, recent high-resolution analysis and re-analysis products of the ECMWF-IFS show good agreement to observations and allow for a detailed investigation of resolved gravity waves, their sources and propagation paths.

In this paper, we identify resolved gravity waves in the ECMWF-IFS analyses for a case of high gravity wave activity in the lower stratosphere using small-volume sinusoidal fits to characterise these gravity waves. The 3D wave vector together with perturbation amplitudes, wave frequency and a fully described background atmosphere are then used to initialise the GROGRAT gravity wave ray-tracer and follow the gravity waves backwards from the stratosphere. Finally, we check for indication of source processes on the path of each ray and thus quantitatively attribute gravity waves to sources that are represented within the model.

We find that stratospheric gravity waves are indeed subject to far (> 1000 km) lateral displacement from their sources, taking place already at low altitudes (< 20 km). Various source processes can be linked to waves within stratospheric GW patterns, such as the orography equator-ward of 50° S and non-orographic sources above the Southern Ocean. These findings may explain why e.g. superpressure balloons observe enhanced gravity wave momentum fluxes in the lower stratosphere over the Southern Ocean despite an apparent lack of sources at this latitude. Our results also support the need to improve gravity wave parametrisations to account for lateral propagation.

Cornelia Strube et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-160', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Apr 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-160', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply to RC1, RC2 and RC3', Cornelia Strube, 20 Jul 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on acp-2021-160', Anonymous Referee #3, 26 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply to RC1, RC2 and RC3', Cornelia Strube, 20 Jul 2021
  • AC1: 'Reply to RC1, RC2 and RC3', Cornelia Strube, 20 Jul 2021

Cornelia Strube et al.

Cornelia Strube et al.


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Short summary
High gravity wave momentum fluxes in the lower stratospheric southern polar vortex around 60° S are still poorly understood. Few sources are found at these latitudes. We present a case study on a large wave field resolved in high-resolution global model temperatures south-east of New Zealand. We show that far lateral propagation of more than 1000 km takes place mainly below 20 km altitude. A variety of orographic and non-orographic sources mostly located north of 50° S generate the wave field.