Much of our understanding of the tropospheric dynamics relies on the concept of discrete internal modes. However, discrete modes are the signature of a finite system, while the atmosphere should be modeled as infinite and "is characterized by a single isolated eigenmode and a continuous spectrum" (Lindzen, JAS 2003). Is it then unphysical to use discrete modes? To resolve this issue we obtain an approximate radiation condition at the tropopause --- this yields an EBC. We then use this EBC to compute a new set of vertical modes: the leaky rigid lid modes. These modes decay, with decay time-scales for the first few modes ranging from an hour to a week. This suggests that the rate of energy loss through upwards propagating waves may be an important factor in setting the time scale for some atmospheric phenomena. The modes are not orthogonal, but they are complete, with a simple way to project initial conditions onto them.
The EBC formulation requires an extension of the dispersive wave theory. There it is shown that sinusoidal waves carry energy with the group speed c_g = d omega / dk, where both the frequency omega and wavenumber k are real. However, when there are losses, complex k's and omega's arise, and a more general theory is required. I will briefly comment on this theory, and on how the Laplace Transform can be used to implement generic EBC.
- Mathematical Geoscience Seminar