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Klinker, E., and P. D. Sardeshmukh, 1992: The diagnosis of mechanical dissipation in the atmosphere from large-scale balance requirements. J. Atmos. Sci., 49, 608-627.


The momentum budget for January 1987 is evaluated with global observations analyzed at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The dissipation term is diagnosed from the budget as a balance requirement, that is, as that required to balance the sum of the advection, Coriolis, pressure gradient, and local tendency terms. This is then compared with the parameterized subgrid-scale effects in the ECMWF model's momentum equation, with a view of identifying possible errors in those parameterizations.

The balance requirement does not support the high parameterized values of orographically induced gravity-wave drag in the lower stratosphere. A deeper analysis also does not suggest a major role for turbulent vertical transports above the boundary layer. On the other hand, our budget does indicate that more effort be spent on a better representation of the potential enstrophy cascade associated with Rossby wave breaking in the upper troposphere. These statements are qualified by the errors in the balance requirement itself. The extent to which this is a problem is discussed.

A distinctive feature of these calculations is their internal consistency, that is, all the terms in the budget are evaluated as in the version of the ECMWF model used for assimilating the observations. This offers several advantages, not the least of which is that it makes our budget residuals identical to the systematic initial tendency errors of the operational weather forecasts, thus facilitating their computation and routine monitoring. As such, our calculations explain a large fraction of the systematic short-range forecast errors and, because of their local character, provide clues as to the possible sources of those errors. Experiments with and without gravity-wave drag are described to illustrate its large contribution during this period to the southerly wind error of the operational weather forecasts at 70 mb over western North America.