Articles | Volume 31, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 31, 1–14, 2013
Ann. Geophys., 31, 1–14, 2013

Regular paper 03 Jan 2013

Regular paper | 03 Jan 2013

Numerical modeling study of the momentum deposition of small amplitude gravity waves in the thermosphere

X. Liu1,2, J. Xu1, J. Yue3,5, and S. L. Vadas4 X. Liu et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
  • 2College of Mathematics and Information Science, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang 453007, China
  • 3High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307, USA
  • 4NorthWest Research Associates, Inc, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
  • 5Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Hampton University, VA, USA

Abstract. We study the momentum deposition in the thermosphere from the dissipation of small amplitude gravity waves (GWs) within a wave packet using a fully nonlinear two-dimensional compressible numerical model. The model solves the nonlinear propagation and dissipation of a GW packet from the stratosphere into the thermosphere with realistic molecular viscosity and thermal diffusivity for various Prandtl numbers. The numerical simulations are performed for GW packets with initial vertical wavelengths (λz) ranging from 5 to 50 km. We show that λz decreases in time as a GW packet dissipates in the thermosphere, in agreement with the ray trace results of Vadas and Fritts (2005) (VF05). We also find good agreement for the peak height of the momentum flux (zdiss) between our simulations and VF05 for GWs with initial λz ≤ 2π H in an isothermal, windless background, where H is the density scale height. We also confirm that zdiss increases with increasing Prandtl number. We include eddy diffusion in the model, and find that the momentum deposition occurs at lower altitudes and has two separate peaks for GW packets with small initial λz. We also simulate GW packets in a non-isothermal atmosphere. The net λz profile is a competition between its decrease from viscosity and its increase from the increasing background temperature. We find that the wave packet disperses more in the non-isothermal atmosphere, and causes changes to the momentum flux and λz spectra at both early and late times for GW packets with initial λz ≥ 10 km. These effects are caused by the increase in T in the thermosphere, and the decrease in T near the mesopause.