Sampling Errors in Observed Gravity Wave Momentum Fluxes from Vertical and Tilted Profiles
Observations from radiosondes or from vertically pointing remote sensing profilers are often used to estimate the vertical flux of momentum due to gravity waves. For planar, monochromatic waves, these vertically integrated fluxes are equal to the phase averaged flux and equivalent to the horizontal averaging used to deduce momentum flux from aircraft data or in numerical models. Using a simple analytical solution for two-dimensional hydrostatic gravity waves over an isolated ridge, it is shown
... ridge, it is shown that this equivalence does not hold for mountain waves. For a vertical profile, the vertically integrated flux estimate is proportional to the horizontally integrated flux and decays with increasing distance of the profile location from the mountain. For tilted profiles, such as those obtained from radiosonde ascents, there is a further sampling error that increases as the trajectory extends beyond the localised wave field. The same sampling issues are seen when the effects of the Coriolis force on the gravity waves are taken into account. The conclusion of this work is that caution must be taken when using radiosondes or other vertical profiles to deduce mountain wave momentum fluxes.