The Overamplification of Gravity Waves in Numerical Solutions to Flow over Topography

Reinecke, Patrick A.; Durran, Dale
May 2009
Monthly Weather Review;May2009, Vol. 137 Issue 5, p1533
Academic Journal
The tendency of high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to overpredict the strength of vertically propagating mountain waves is explored. Discrete analytic mountain-wave solutions are presented for the classical problem of cross-mountain flow in an atmosphere with constant wind speed and stability. Time-dependent linear numerical solutions are also obtained for more realistic atmospheric structures. On one hand, using second-order-accurate finite differences on an Arakawa C grid to model nonhydrostatic flow over what might be supposed to be an adequately resolved 8Δx-wide mountain can lead to an overamplification of the standing mountain wave by 30%–40%. On the other hand, the same finite-difference scheme underestimates the wave amplitude in hydrostatic flow over an 8Δx-wide mountain. Increasing the accuracy of the advection scheme to the fourth order significantly reduces the numerical errors associated with both the hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic discrete solutions. The Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) model is used to generate two 70-member ensemble simulations of a mountain-wave event during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment. It is shown that switching from second-order advection to fourth-order advection leads to as much as a 20 m s-1 decrease in vertical velocity on the lee side of the Sierra Nevada, and that the weaker fourth-order solutions are more consistent with observations.


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