Gravity waves and mesospheric clouds in the summer middle atmosphere: A comparison of lidar measurements and ray modeling of gravity waves over Sondrestrom, Greenland

Andrew J. Gerrard, Timothy J. Kane, Stephen D. Eckermann, Jeffrey P. Thayer

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Abstract

We conducted gravity wave ray-tracing experiments within an atmospheric region centered near the ARCLITE lidar system at Sondrestrom, Greenland (67°N, 310°E), in efforts to understand lidar observations of both upper stratospheric gravity wave activity and mesospheric clouds during August 1996 and the summer of 2001. The ray model was used to trace gravity waves through realistic three-dimensional daily-varying background atmospheres in the region, based on forecasts and analyses in the troposphere and stratosphere and climatologies higher up. Reverse ray tracing based on upper stratospheric lidar observations at Sondrestrom was also used to try to objectively identify wave source regions in the troposphere. A source spectrum specified by reverse ray tracing experiments in early August 1996 (when atmospheric flow patterns produced enhanced transmission of waves into the upper stratosphere) yielded model results throughout the remainder of August 1996 that agreed best in the lidar observations. The model also simulated increased vertical group propagation of waves between 40 km and 80 km due to intensifying mean easterlies, which allowed many of the gravity waves observed at 40 km over Sondrestrom to propagate quasi-vertically from 40-80 km and then interact with any mesospheric clouds at 80 km near Sondrestrom, supporting earlier experimentally-inferred correlations between upper stratospheric gravity wave activity and mesospheric cloud backscatter from Sondrestrom lidar observations. A pilot experiment of real-time runs with the model in 2001 using weather forecast data as a low-level background produced less agreement with lidar observations. We believe this is due to limitations in our specified tropospheric source spectrum, the use of climatological winds and temperatures in the upper stratosphere and mesosphere, and missing lidar data from important time periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)D10103 15-16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
Volume109
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 27 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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