Mesoscale Gravity Waves and Midlatitude Weather: A Tribute to Fuqing Zhang

James H. Ruppert, Steven E. Koch, Xingchao Chen, Yu Du, Anton Seimon, Y. Qiang Sun, Junhong Wei, Lance F. Bosart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the course of his career, Fuqing Zhang drew vital new insights into the dynamics of meteorologically significant mesoscale gravity waves (MGWs), including their generation by unbalanced jet streaks, their interaction with fronts and organized precipitation, and their importance in midlatitude weather and predictability. Zhang was the first to deeply examine “spontaneous balance adjustment”-the process by which MGWs are continuously emitted as baroclinic growth drives the upper-level flow out of balance. Through his pioneering numerical model investigation of the large-amplitude MGW event of 4 January 1994, he additionally demonstrated the critical role of MGW-moist convection interaction in wave amplification. Zhang's curiosity-turned-passion in atmospheric science covered a vast range of topics and led to the birth of new branches of research in mesoscale meteorology and numerical weather prediction. Yet, it was his earliest studies into midlatitude MGWs and their significant impacts on hazardous weather that first inspired him. Such MGWs serve as the focus of this review, wherein we seek to pay tribute to his groundbreaking contributions, review our current understanding, and highlight critical open science issues. Chief among such issues is the nature of MGW amplification through feedback with moist convection, which continues to elude a complete understanding. The pressing nature of this subject is underscored by the continued failure of operational numerical forecast models to adequately predict most large-amplitude MGW events. Further research into such issues therefore presents a valuable opportunity to improve the understanding and forecasting of this high-impact weather phenomenon, and in turn, to preserve the spirit of Zhang's dedication to this subject.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E129-E156
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Volume103
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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