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Gravity wave drag parameterizations for Earth's atmosphere
  • +3
  • Christopher G Kruse,
  • Jadwiga H Richter,
  • M. Joan Alexander,
  • Julio T Bacmeister,
  • Christopher Heale,
  • Junhong Wei
Christopher G Kruse
NorthWest Research Associates, Boulder, CO, USA

Corresponding Author:ckruse@nwra.com

Author Profile
Jadwiga H Richter
Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
M. Joan Alexander
NorthWest Research Associates, Boulder, CO, USA
Julio T Bacmeister
Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
Christopher Heale
Department of Physical Sciences, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA
Junhong Wei
School of Atmospheric Sciences and Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, and Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai, China


Atmospheric gravity waves (GWs), or buoyancy waves, transport momentum and energy through Earth’s atmosphere. GWs are important at nearly all levels of the atmosphere, though,  the momentum they transport is particularly important in general circulation of the middle and upper atmosphere. Primary sources of atmospheric GWs are flow over mountains, moist convection, and imbalances in jet/frontal systems. Secondary GWs can also be generated as a result of dissipation of a primary GWs. Gravity waves typically have horizontal wavelengths of 10’s to 100’s of kilometers, though, they can have scales of 1’s to 1000’s of kilometers as well. Current effective resolutions of climate models, and even numerical weather prediction models, do not resolve significant portions of the momentum- and energy-flux-carrying GW spectrum, and so parameterizations are necessary to represent under- and unresolved GWs in most current models.  Here, an overview of GWs generated by orography, convection, jet/front systems, primary wave breaking, and secondary wave generation is provided. The basic theory of GW generation, propagation, and dissipation relevant to parameterization is presented. Conventionally used GW parameterizations are then reviewed. Lastly, we describe uncertainties and parameter tuning in current parameterizations and discuss known processes that are currently missing.
04 Jan 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
17 Jan 2023Published in ESS Open Archive