Toward an Understanding of Vertical Momentum Transports in Cloud-System-Resolving Model Simulations of Multiscale Tropical Convection

Shaw, Tiffany A.; Lane, Todd P.

This study examines the characteristics of convective momentum transport (CMT) and gravity wave momentum transport (GWMT) in two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model simulations, including the relationships between the two transports. A linear group velocity criterion is shown to objectively separate CMT and GWMT. The GWMT contribution is mostly consistent with upward-propagating gravity waves and is present in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The CMT contribution forms a large part of the residual (nonupward-propagating contribution) and dominates the fluxes in the troposphere. Additional analysis of the vertical sensible heat flux supports the physical interpretation of the two contributions, further isolating the effects of unstable convection from vertically propagating gravity waves. The role of transient and nonconservative (friction and diabatic heating) processes in generating momentum flux and their dependence on changes in convective organization was assessed using a pseudomomentum budget analysis. Nonconservative effects were found to dominate the transports; the GWMT contribution involved a diabatic source region in the troposphere and a dissipative sink region in the stratosphere. The CMT contribution was consistent with transport between the boundary layer and free troposphere via tilted convection. Transient buoyancy–vorticity correlations highlighted wave sources in the region of convective outflow and the boundary layer. These sources were akin to the previously described “mechanical oscillator” mechanism. Fluxes associated with this upper-level source were most sensitive to convective organization, highlighting the mechanism by which changes in organization are communicated to GWMT. The results elucidate important interactions between CMT and GWMT, adding further weight to suggestions that the two transports should be linked in parameterizations.


Also Published In

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Published Here
February 13, 2014