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  1. Abstract

    A companion paper by Hecht et al. (2020, describes high‐resolution observations in the hydroxyl (OH) airglow layer of interactions among adjacent Kelvin‐Helmholtz instabilities (KHI). The interactions in this case were apparently induced by gravity waves propagating nearly orthogonally to the KHI orientations, became strong as Kelvin‐Helmholtz (KH) billows achieved large amplitudes, and included features named “tubes” and “knots” in early laboratory KHI studies. A numerical modeling study approximating the KHI environment and revealing the dynamics of knots and tubes is described here. These features arise where KH billows are misaligned along their axes or where two billows must merge with one. They bear a close resemblance to the observed instability dynamics and suggest that they are likely to occur wherever KHI formation is modulated by variable wind shears, stability, or larger‐scale motions. Small‐scale features typical of those in turbulence develop in association with the formation of the knots and tubes earlier and more rapidly than those accompanying individual billows, supporting an earlier conjecture that tubes and knots are commonly major sources of intense turbulent dissipation accompanying KHI events in the atmosphere.

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  2. Abstract

    Results of two‐dimensional and narrow three‐dimensional (2‐D and 2.5‐D) simulations of a gravity wave (GW) packet localized in altitude and along its propagation direction employing a new, versatile compressible model are described. The simulations explore self‐acceleration and instability dynamics in an idealized atmosphere at rest under mean solar conditions in a domain extending to an altitude of 260 km and 1,800 km horizontally without artificial dissipation. High resolution in the central 2.5‐D domain enables the description of 3‐D instability dynamics accounting for breaking, dissipation, and momentum deposition within the GW packet. 2‐D results describe responses to localized self‐acceleration effects, including generation of secondary GWs (SGWs) at larger scales able to propagate to much higher altitudes. 2.5‐D results exhibit instability forms consistent with previous 3‐D simulations of instability dynamics and cause SGW generation and propagation at smaller spatial scales to weaken significantly compared to the 2‐D results. SGW responses at larger scales are driven primarily by GW/mean flow interactions arising at early stages of the self‐acceleration dynamics prior to strong GW instabilities and dissipation. As a result, they exhibit similar responses in both the 2‐D and 2.5‐D simulations and readily propagate to high altitudes at large distances from the initial GW packet. A companion paper examines these dynamics for an initial GW packet localized in three dimensions and evolving in a representative 3‐D tidal wind field.

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