A High-Resolution Whole-Atmosphere Model With Resolved Gravity Waves and Specified Large-Scale Dynamics in the Troposphere and Stratosphere

Erich Becker, Sharon L. Vadas, Katrina Bossert, V. Lynn Harvey, Christoph Zülicke, Lars Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We present a new version of the HIgh Altitude Mechanistic general Circulation Model (HIAMCM) with specified dynamics. We utilize a spectral method that nudges only the large-scale flow to MERRA-2 reanalysis. The nudged HIAMCM simulates gravity waves (GWs) down to horizontal wavelengths of about 200 km from the troposphere to the thermosphere like the free-running model, including the generation of secondary and tertiary GWs. Case studies show that the simulated large-scale GWs are consistent with those in the reanalysis, while the medium-scale GWs compare well with observations in the northern winter 2016 stratosphere from the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS). GWs having wavelengths larger than about 1,350 km can be described with the nonlinear balance equation. The GWs relevant in the stratosphere, however, have smaller scales and require a different approach. We propose that the GW amplification due to kinetic energy transfer from the large-scale flow combined with GW potential energy flux convergence helps to identify the mesoscale GW sources due to spontaneous emission. The GW amplification is strongest in the region of maximum large-scale vertical wind shear in the mid-stratosphere. Maps of the time-averaged stratospheric GW activity simulated by the HIAMCM and computed from AIRS satellite data show a persistent hot spot over Europe during January 2016. At about 40 km, the average GW amplitudes are maximum in the region of fastest large-scale flow. We argue that refraction of GWs originating in the troposphere, as well as GWs from spontaneous emission in the stratosphere contribute to this effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JD035018
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 27 2022


  • comparison of simulated gravity waves with satellite observations and reanalysis
  • gravity waves in the northern stratosphere during January 2016
  • nudged GCM with resolved gravity waves
  • spontaneous emission of gravity waves from the polar vortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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