Adjustment to injections of mass, momentum, and heat in a compressible atmosphere

Jeffrey M. Chagnon, Peter R. Bannon

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8 Scopus citations


This study compares the response to injections of mass, heat, and momentum during hydrostatic and geostrophic adjustment in a compressible atmosphere. The sensitivity of the adjustment to these different injection types is examined at varying spatial and temporal scales through analysis of the transient evolution of the fields as well as the partitioning of total energy between acoustic waves, buoyancy waves, Lamb waves, and the steady state. The effect of a cumulus cloud on its larger-scale environment may be represented as a vertical mass source/sink and a localized warming. To examine how the response to such injections may differ, injections of mass and heat that generate identical potential vorticity (PV) distributions and, hence, identical steady states, are compared. When the duration of the injection is very short (e.g., a minute or less), the injection of mass generates a very large acoustic wave response relative to the PV-equivalent injection of heat. However, the buoyancy wave response to these two injection types is quite similar. The responses to injections of divergent momentum in the vertical and horizontal directions are also compared. It is shown that neither divergent momentum injection generates any PV and, thus, there is no steady-state response to these injections. The waves excited by these injections generally propagate their energy in the direction of the injection. Consequently, an injection of vertical momentum is an efficient generator of vertically propagating, horizontally trapped, high-frequency buoyancy waves. Such waves have a short time scale and are therefore very sensitive to the injection duration. Analogously, an injection of divergent horizontal momentum is an efficient generator of horizontally propagating, vertically trapped low-frequency buoyancy waves that are relatively insensitive to the injection duration. Because of this difference in the response to horizontal and vertical injections of momentum, the response to the injection of an isolated updraft differs depending on whether a compensating horizontal inflow/outflow is also specified. This additional specification of inflow/outflow helps filter acoustic waves and encourages a stronger updraft that is not removed as rapidly by the buoyancy waves. This finding is relevant to the initialization of updrafts in compressible numerical weather prediction models. Injection of nondivergent momentum generates waves in the regions of convergence/divergence produced by the deflection of the current by Coriolis forces. The energy partitioning for such an injection is sensitive to the width and depth of the current relative to the Rossby radius of deformation, but the response is insensitive to the duration of injection for time scales shorter than several hours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2749-2769
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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