Mesoscale gravity waves in moist baroclinic jet-front systems

Junhong Wei, Fuqing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A series of cloud-permitting simulations with the Weather Research and Forecast model (WRF) are performed to study the characteristics and source mechanisms of mesoscale gravity waves in moist baroclinic jet-front systems with varying degrees of convective instability. These idealized experiments are initialized with the same baroclinic jet but with different initial moisture content, which produce different life cycles of moist baroclinic waves, to investigate the relative roles of moist processes and baroclinicity in the generation and propagation of mesoscale gravity waves. The dry experiment with no moisture or convection simulates gravity waves that are consistent with past modeling studies. An experiment with a small amount of moisture produces similar baroclinic life cycles to the dry experiment but with the introduction of weak convective instability. Subsequent initiation of convection, although weak, may considerably amplify the gravity waves that are propagating away from the upper-level jet exit region crossing the ridge to the jet entrance region. The weak convection also generates a new wave mode of shorter-scale wave packets that are believed to interact with, strengthen, and modify the dry gravity wave modes. Further increase of the moisture content (up to 5 times) leads to strong convective instability and vigorous moist convection. Besides a faster-growing moist baroclinic wave, the convectively generated gravity waves emerge much earlier, are more prevalent, and are larger in amplitude; they are fully coupled with, and hardly separable from, the dry gravity wave modes under the complex background moist baroclinic waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-952
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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