1212 Contributions of Moist Convection and Internal Gravity Waves to Building the Atmospheric â₀œ-5/3â₀ Kinetic Energy Spectra

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Y. Qiang Sun, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA; and R. Rotunno and F. Zhang

With high-resolution mesoscale-model simulations, we here have confirmed a recent study demonstrating that convective systems, triggered in a horizontally homogeneous environment, are able to generate a background mesoscale kinetic energy spectrum with a slope close to -5/3, which is the observed value for the kinetic energy spectrum at mesoscales. This shallow slope can be identified at almost all height levels from the lower troposphere to the lower stratosphere in our simulations, implying a strong connection between different vertical levels. The present study also computes the spectral kinetic energy budget for these simulations to further analyze the processes associated with the creation of the spectrum. The buoyancy production generated by moist convection, while mainly injecting energy in the upper troposphere at small scales, could also contribute to larger scales, possibly due to the organization of convective cells into mesoscale convective systems. This latter injected energy is then transported by energy fluxes (due to gravity waves and/or convection) both upward and downward. Nonlinear interactions, associated with the velocity advection term, finally helps build the approximate “-5/3” slope through upscale/downscale propagation at all levels.
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