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Short-Period Atmospheric Gravity Waves: A Study of Their Statistical Properties and Source Mechanisms

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, City College of New York, New York, NY 10031 and Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964
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Abstract

Gravity waves for the one year period beginning 19 October 1976 around Palisades, New York, are investigated to determine their statistical properties and sources. The waves have typical periods of 10 min, pressure amplitudes of 3 Pa and velocities of 30 m s−1. In general, the largest, amplitude waves occur during late fall and early winter when the upper tropospheric winds directly overhead are fastest and the static stability of the lower troposphere is greatest. Mean wave amplitudes correlate highly with the product of the mean maximum wind speed and the mean low level stratification directly aloft. A distinct diurnal variation of wave amplitudes with the largest waves occurring in the pro-dawn hours is also observed as a result of the increased static stability then.

The majority of waves are generated by shear instability; however, a number of waves are generated by distant sources such as nuclear detonations or large thunderstorms. The waves with distant sources can be distinguished on the basis of their generally much higher coherency across the grid and velocities that depart markedly from the wind velocity at any point in the sounding.

Abstract

Gravity waves for the one year period beginning 19 October 1976 around Palisades, New York, are investigated to determine their statistical properties and sources. The waves have typical periods of 10 min, pressure amplitudes of 3 Pa and velocities of 30 m s−1. In general, the largest, amplitude waves occur during late fall and early winter when the upper tropospheric winds directly overhead are fastest and the static stability of the lower troposphere is greatest. Mean wave amplitudes correlate highly with the product of the mean maximum wind speed and the mean low level stratification directly aloft. A distinct diurnal variation of wave amplitudes with the largest waves occurring in the pro-dawn hours is also observed as a result of the increased static stability then.

The majority of waves are generated by shear instability; however, a number of waves are generated by distant sources such as nuclear detonations or large thunderstorms. The waves with distant sources can be distinguished on the basis of their generally much higher coherency across the grid and velocities that depart markedly from the wind velocity at any point in the sounding.

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