Westward Traveling Planetary Wave Events in the Lower Thermosphere During Solar Minimum Conditions Simulated by SD-WACCM-X

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 8:30 AM
227A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Fabrizio Sassi, NRL, Washington, DC; and H. L. Liu

Handout (3.3 MB)

We present numerical simulations with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, eXtended version (WACCM-X), whose dynamics is constrained by atmospheric specifications during recent and historical solar minimum conditions. The focus of this study is to describe how various dynamical conditions of boreal winter affect the dynamical behavior of the lower thermosphere (90-150 km). The model simulations are carried out during solar minimum conditions and the results shown here discuss the period January 1 - March 30 for five years (1995, 1996, 2008, 2009, and 2010). These years were selected because they include boreal winters without stratospheric warming (1995 and 1996), with modest or normal stratospheric warming (2008, 2010), and with a large and persistent stratospheric warming (2009). The ultimate goal of this study is to encapsulate the statistically significant dynamical behavior due to westward propagating, planetary-scale waves (wavenumber 1 and wavenumber 2) in the lower thermosphere that are associated with different stratospheric conditions. To this end we show that the westward zonal acceleration above about 80 km is by and large described by traveling waves with periods between 2 and 10 days. We show that the momentum carried by these waves is unlikely to affect directly the momentum budget of the extra-tropical lower thermosphere, where instead gravity-wave drag figures prominently. However, at the times leading to and following large stratospheric disturbances, we show prominent meridional propagation of wave activity from the mid-latitudes toward the tropics. In combination with strong eastward meridional wind shear, our results provide further evidence that such equatorward propagation of momentum in the lower thermosphere might influence the amplitude of equatorially trapped tides.