Scientists at Oxford University have discovered that small-scale fluctuations, which are wide-spread in the atmosphere, may have a greater impact on weather systems than previously thought. The results, published in Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, may have important implications for accurate weather forecasting.
The fluctuations, known as inertia-gravity waves because they are sustained by a combination of inertial and gravitational forces, are prominent in the bottom 15 km of the atmosphere.
They can often be seen from the surface of the Earth as stripy features in clouds. Their horizontal wavelengths can be as short as 5 km – too small to be picked up by current weather prediction models, which divide the surface of the Earth into grid-boxes measuring around 50 km by 50 km.
Barbara Hott | alfa
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