Articles | Volume 22, issue 6
14 Jun 2004
 | 14 Jun 2004

Modeling study of mesospheric planetary waves: genesis and characteristics

H. G. Mayr, J. G. Mengel, E. R. Talaat, H. S. Porter, and K. L. Chan

Abstract. The Numerical Spectral Model (NSM) extends from the ground into the thermosphere and incorporates Hines' Doppler Spread Parameterization for small-scale gravity waves (GWs). In the present version of the model we account for a tropospheric heat source in the zonal mean (m=0), which reproduces qualitatively the observed zonal jets near the tropopause and the accompanying reversal in the latitudinal temperature variations. In the study presented here, we discuss the planetary waves (PWs) that are solely generated internally, i.e. without the explicit excitation sources related to tropospheric convection or topography. Our analysis shows that PWs are not produced when the zonally averaged heat source into the atmosphere is artificially suppressed, and that the PWs are generally weaker when the tropospheric source is not applied. Instabilities associated with the zonal mean temperature, pressure and wind fields, which still need to be explored, are exciting PWs that have amplitudes in the mesosphere comparable to those observed. Three classes of PWs are generated in the NSM. (1) Rossby type PWs, which slowly propagate westward relative to the mean zonal flow, are carried by the winds so that they appear (from the ground) to propagate, respectively, eastward and westward in the winter and summer hemispheres below 80km. Depending on the zonal wave number and magnitudes of the zonal winds, and under the influence of the equatorial oscillations, these PWs typically have periods between 2 and 20 days. Their horizontal wind amplitudes can exceed 40 m/s in the lower mesosphere. (2) Rossby-gravity waves, which propagate westward at low latitudes and have periods around 2 days for zonal wave numbers m=2 to 4. (3) Eastward propagating equatorial Kelvin waves, which are generated in the upper mesosphere with periods between 1 and 3 days depending on m. A survey of the PWs reveals that the largest wind amplitudes tend to occur below 80km in the winter hemisphere; but above that altitude the amplitudes are larger in the summer hemisphere where the winds can approach 50m/s. This pattern in the seasonal variations also appears in the baroclinity of the zonal mean (m=0). The nonmigrating tides in the mesosphere are significantly larger for the model with the tropospheric heat source, in which PWs are apparently generated by the instabilities that arise around the tropopause.