A case study on the far-field properties of propagating tropospheric gravity waves

Stephan, CC, Alexander JM, Hedlin M, De Groot-Hedlin CD, Hoffmann L.  2016.  A case study on the far-field properties of propagating tropospheric gravity waves. Monthly Weather Review. 144:2947-2961.: American Meteorological Society

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Mesoscale gravity waves were observed by barometers deployed as part of the USArray Transportable Array on 29 June 2011 near two mesoscale convective systems in the Great Plains region of the United States. Simultaneously, AIRS satellite data indicated stratospheric gravity waves propagating away from the location of active convection. Peak perturbation pressure values associated with waves propagating outside of regions where there was precipitation reached amplitudes close to 400 Pa at the surface. Here the origins of the waves and their relationship to observed precipitation are investigated with a specialized model study. Simulations with a 4-km resolution dry numerical model reproduce the propagation characteristics and amplitudes of the observed waves with a high degree of quantitative similarity despite the absence of any boundary layer processes, surface topography, or moist physics in the model. The model is forced with a three-dimensional, time-dependent latent heating/cooling field that mimics the latent heating inside the precipitation systems. The heating is derived from the network of weather radar precipitation observations. This shows that deep, intense latent heat release within the precipitation systems is the key forcing mechanism for the waves observed at ground level by the USArray. Furthermore, the model simulations allow for a more detailed investigation of the vertical structure and propagation characteristics of the waves. It is found that the stratospheric and tropospheric waves are triggered by the same sources, but have different spectral properties. Results also suggest that the propagating tropospheric waves may potentially remotely interact with and enhance active precipitation.