To facilitate the understanding of nonhydrostatic effect in global and regional nonhydrostatic models, the normal modes of a nonhydrostatic, stratified, and compressible atmosphere are studied using Cartesian coordinates on midlatitude and equatorial beta-planes. The dynamical equations without forcing and dissipation are linearized around the basic state at rest, and solved by using the method of separation of variables. An eigenvalue-eigenfunction problem is formulated, consisting of the horizontal and vertical structure equations with suitable boundary conditions. The wave frequency and the separation parameter, referred to as "equivalent height," appear in both the horizontal and vertical characteristic equations as a coupled problem, unlike the hydrostatic case. Therefore, the nonhydrostatic equivalent height depends not only on the vertical modal scale, as in the hydrostatic case, but also on the zonal and meridional modal scales. Numerical results on the dispersion relations are presented for an isothermal atmosphere. Three kinds of normal modes, namely acoustic, gravity, and Rossby modes, are solved and compared with the corresponding global solutions. Nonhydrostatic effects are studied in terms of normal modes in a wide range of wavelengths from small to planetary scales. It is demonstrated that Rossby modes are hardly affected by nonhydrostatic effects regardless of wavelengths. However, nonhydrostatic effects on gravity modes become significant for smaller horizontal and deeper vertical scales of motion. The equivalent height plays a particularly important role in evaluating nonhydrostatic effects of normal modes on the equatorial beta-plane, because the equivalent height appears in the scaling of meridional distance variable of the eigenfunctions. The implementation of nonhydrostatic normal mode analysis on high-resolution numerical modeling is also discussed.
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