Articles | Volume 30, issue 2
Regular paper
03 Feb 2012
Regular paper |  | 03 Feb 2012

Spectral energy transfer of atmospheric gravity waves through sum and difference nonlinear interactions

K. M. Huang, A. Z. Liu, S. D. Zhang, F. Yi, and Z. Li

Abstract. Nonlinear interactions of gravity waves are studied with a two-dimensional, fully nonlinear model. The energy exchanges among resonant and near-resonant triads are examined in order to understand the spectral energy transfer through interactions. The results show that in both resonant and near-resonant interactions, the energy exchange between two high frequency waves is strong, but the energy transfer from large to small vertical scale waves is rather weak. This suggests that the energy cascade toward large vertical wavenumbers through nonlinear interaction is inefficient, which is different from the rapid turbulence cascade. Because of considerable energy exchange, nonlinear interactions can effectively spread high frequency spectrum, and play a significant role in limiting wave amplitude growth and transferring energy into higher altitudes. In resonant interaction, the interacting waves obey the resonant matching conditions, and resonant excitation is reversible, while near-resonant excitation is not so. Although near-resonant interaction shows the complexity of match relation, numerical experiments show an interesting result that when sum and difference near-resonant interactions occur between high and low frequency waves, the wave vectors tend to approximately match in horizontal direction, and the frequency of the excited waves is also close to the matching value.