Submitting Campus

Daytona Beach


College of Arts & Sciences

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication/Presentation Date



Atmospheric gravity waves (GWs), or buoyancy waves, transport momentum and energy through Earth’s atmosphere. GWs are important at nearly all levels of the atmosphere, though, the momentum they transport is particularly important in general circulation of the middle and upper atmosphere. Primary sources of atmospheric GWs are flow over mountains, moist convection, and imbalances in jet/frontal systems. Secondary GWs can also be generated as a result of dissipation of a primary GWs. Gravity waves typically have horizontal wavelengths of 10’s to 100’s of kilometers, though, they can have scales of 1’s to 1000’s of kilometers as well. Current effective resolutions of climate models, and even numerical weather prediction models, do not resolve significant portions of the momentum- and energy-flux-carrying GW spectrum, and so parameterizations are necessary to represent under- and unresolved GWs in most current models. Here, an overview of GWs generated by orography, convection, jet/front systems, primary wave breaking, and secondary wave generation is provided. The basic theory of GW generation, propagation, and dissipation relevant to parameterization is presented. Conventionally used GW parameterizations are then reviewed. Lastly, we describe uncertainties and parameter tuning in current parameterizations and discuss known processes that are currently missing.

Publication Title

Fast Physics in Large Scale Atmospheric Models: Parameterization, Evaluation, and Observations



American Geophysical Union