The sensitivity of the middle atmospheric temperature and circulation to the treatment of mean- flow forcing due to breaking gravity waves was investigated using the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 40-layer Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere General Circulation Model (MST-GCM). Three GCM experiments were performed. The gravity-wave forcing was represented first by Rayleigh friction, and then by the Alexander and Dunkerton (AD) parameterization with weak and strong breaking effects of gravity waves. In all experiments, the Palmer et al. parameterization was included to treat the breaking of topographic gravity waves in the troposphere and lower stratosphere. Overall, the experiment with the strong breaking effect simulates best the middle atmospheric temperature and circulation. With Rayleigh friction and the weak breaking effect, a large warm bias of up to 60 C was found in the summer upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere. This warm bias was linked to the inability of the GCM to simulate the reversal of the zonal winds from easterly to westerly crossing the mesopause in the summer hemisphere. With the strong breaking effect, the GCM was able to simulate this reversal, and essentially eliminated the warm bias. This improvement was the result of a much stronger meridional transport circulation that possesses a strong vertical ascending branch in the summer upper mesosphere, and hence large adiabatic cooling. Budget analysis indicates that 'in the middle atmosphere the forces that act to maintain a steady zonal-mean zonal wind are primarily those associated with the meridional transport circulation and breaking gravity waves. Contributions from the interaction of the model-resolved eddies with the mean flow are small. To obtain a transport circulation in the mesosphere of the UIUC MST-GCM that is strong enough to produce the observed cold summer mesopause, gravity-wave forcing larger than 100 m/s/day in magnitude is required near the summer mesopause. In the tropics, only with the AD parameterization can the model produce realistic semiannual oscillations.
Meteorology and Climatology