W1: Gravity wave parameterisation for the atmosphere

Principal investigators: Prof. Erich Becker (Leibniz Institut for Atmospheric Physics), Prof. Carsten Eden (Universität Hamburg), Prof. Dirk Olbers (MARUM-AWI)

The recently proposed parameterization module "Internal wave Dissipation Energy and MIXing" (IDEMIX) describes the generation, propagation, interaction, and dissipation of the internal gravity wave field and can be used in ocean general circulation models to account for vertical mixing (and friction) in the interior of the ocean. It is based on the radiative transfer equation of a weakly interacting internal wave field, for which spectrally integrated energy compartments are used as prognostic model variables. IDEMIX is central to the concept of an energetically consistent ocean model, since it enables to link all sources and sinks of internal wave energy and furthermore all parameterized forms of energy in an ocean model without spurious sources and sinks of energy.

Gravity waves are an important part of the energy cycle of the atmosphere and exchange momentum and energy with the mean flow due to wave breaking and wave refraction. Wave breaking and the resulting mean-flow effects need special parameterization in global climate models as they usually resolve at most a small part of the full spectrum of gravity waves. In W1 we apply the IDEMIX concept to develop corresponding gravity wave schemes for atmospheric circulation models. We propose to base a new, energetically consistent gravity wave parameterization on the radiative transfer equation for a field of waves. This method is fundamentally different from conventional schemes which describe the superposition of monochromatic waves launched at a particular level and which make the strong assumption of a stationary mean flow. As for the ocean, the wave field is represented by the wave-energy density in physical and wavenumber space. This new concept goes far beyond conventional gravity wave schemes which are based on the single column approximation. The radiative transfer equation has – to our knowledge – never been considered in the atmospheric community as a framework for sub-grid-scale parameterization. The proposed parameterization will, for the first time, 1) include all relevant sources continuously in space and time and 2) accommodate all gravity wave sources (orography, fronts, and convection) in a single parameterization framework. Moreover, the new scheme is formulated in a precisely energy preserving fashion.

The IDEMIX concept was shown to be successful for ocean applications but instead of focussing on the mixing effect by breaking waves as for the oceanic case, the focus in the atmospheric application is on the wave-mean flow interaction, i.e. the gravity wave drag and the energy deposition. We will extend the concept of energetically consistent closures to atmospheric gravity wave closures. The project will contribute to a transfer of knowledge from the oceanic community to the atmospheric community and vice versa.