Dias J., P. L. Silva Dias, G. N. Kiladis and M. Gehne (September 2013): Modulation of Shallow-Water Equatorial Waves due to a Varying Equivalent Height Background. J. Atmos. Sci., 70 (9), 2726-2750. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-13-04.1

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Abstract

The dynamics of convectively coupled equatorial waves (CCEWs) is analyzed in an idealized model of the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The model is composed of a linear rotating shallow-water system with a variable equivalent height, or equivalent gravity wave speed, which varies in space. This model is based on the hypothesis that moist convection acts to remove convective instability, therefore modulating the equivalent height of a shallow-water system. Asymptotic solutions are derived in the case of a small perturbation around a constant coefficient, which is assumed to be a mean moist equivalent height derived from satellite observations. The first-order solutions correspond to the free normal modes of the linear shallow-water system and the second-order flow is derived solving a perturbation eigenvalue problem. The asymptotic solutions are documented in the case of a zonally varying equivalent height and for wavenumbers and frequencies that are consistent with observations of CCEWs. This analysis shows that the dynamics of the secondary divergence and its impact on the full divergence varies mode by mode. For instance, for a negative equivalent height anomaly, which is interpreted as a moister background, the secondary divergence is nearly in phase with the primary divergence in the case of Kelvin waves—in contrast to mixed Rossby–gravity waves where the secondary divergence acts to attenuate the primary divergence. While highly idealized, the modeled waves share some features with observations, providing a mechanism for the relationship between CCEWs phase speed, amplitude, and horizontal structure.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-13-04.1
URI: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/pubs/id/eprint/1013