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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 2
Ann. Geophys., 13, 196–210, 1995
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-995-0196-7
© European Geosciences Union 1995
Ann. Geophys., 13, 196–210, 1995
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-995-0196-7
© European Geosciences Union 1995

  28 Feb 1995

28 Feb 1995

The instability of internal gravity waves to localised disturbances

J. Vanneste J. Vanneste

Abstract. The instability of an internal gravity wave due to nonlinear wave-wave interaction is studied theoretically and numerically. Three different aspects of this phenomenon are examined. 1. The influence of dissipation on both the resonant and the nonresonant interactions is analysed using a normal mode expansion of the basic equations. In particular, the modifications induced in the interaction domain are calculated and as a result some modes are shown to be destabilised by dissipation. 2. The evolution of an initial unstable disturbance of finite vertical extent is described as the growth of two secondary wave packets travelling at the same group velocity. A quasi-linear correction to the basic primary wave is calculated, corresponding to a localised amplitude decrease due to the disturbance growth. 3. Numerical experiments are carried out to study the effect of a basic shear on wave instability. It appears that the growing secondary waves can have a frequency larger than that of the primary wave, provided that the shear is sufficient. The instability of waves with large amplitude and long period, such as tides or planetary waves, could therefore be invoked as a possible mechanism for the generation of gravity waves with shorter period in the middle atmosphere.

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