Atmospheric kinetic energy spectra from global high-resolution nonhydrostatic simulations

William C. Skamarock, Sang Hun Park, Joseph B. Klemp, Chris Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Kinetic energy (KE) spectra derived from global high-resolution atmospheric simulations from the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) are presented. The simulations are produced using quasi-uniform global Voronoi horizontal meshes with 3-, 7.5-, and 15-km mean cell spacings. KE spectra from the MPAS simulations compare well with observations and other simulations in the literature and possess the canonical KE spectra structure including a very-well-resolved shallow-sloped mesoscale region in the 3-km simulation. There is a peak in the vertical velocity variance at the model filter scale for all simulations, indicating the underresolved nature of updrafts even with the 3-km mesh. The KE spectra reveal that the MPAS configuration produces an effective model resolution (filter scale) of approximately 6Δx. Comparison with other published model KE spectra highlight model filtering issues, specifically insufficient filtering that can lead to spectral blocking and the production of erroneous shallow-sloped mesoscale tails in the KE spectra. The mesoscale regions in the MPAS KE spectra are produced without use of kinetic energy backscatter, in contrast to other results reported in the literature. No substantive difference is found in KE spectra computed on constant height or constant pressure surfaces. Stratified turbulence is not resolved with the vertical resolution used in this study; hence, the results do not support recent conjecture that stratified turbulence explains the mesoscale portion of the KE spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4369-4381
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Meteorological Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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