## Abstract

The equivalent depth of an atmospheric layer is of importance in determining the phase speed of gravity waves and characterizing wave phenomena. The value of the equivalent depth can be obtained from the eigenvalues of the vertical structure equation (the vertical part of the primitive equations) where the mean temperature profile is a coefficient. Both numerical solutions of the vertical structure equation and analytical considerations are employed to calculate the equivalent depth, (Formula presented.), as a function of the atmospheric layer's thickness, (Formula presented.). Our solutions for layers of thickness 100 (Formula presented.) 2000 m show that for baroclinic modes, (Formula presented.) can be over two orders of magnitudes smaller than (Formula presented.). Analytic expressions are derived for (Formula presented.) in layers of uniform temperature and numerical solutions are derived for layers in which the temperature changes linearly with height. A comparison between the two cases shows that a slight temperature gradient (of say 0.65 K across a 100 m layer) decreases (Formula presented.) by a factor of 3 (but can reach a factor of 10 for larger gradients) compared with its value in a layer of uniform temperature, while a change of 10 K in the layer's uniform temperature hardly changes (Formula presented.). The (Formula presented.) baroclinic mode exists in all combinations of boundary conditions top and bottom while the barotropic mode only exists when the vertical velocity vanishes at both boundaries of the layer.

Original language | English |
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Journal | Atmospheric Science Letters |

DOIs | |

State | Accepted/In press - 2024 |

### Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:© 2024 The Author(s). Atmospheric Science Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society.

## Keywords

- equivalent depth
- thin atmospheric layer