Atmospheric Coupling by Gravity Waves: Climatology of Gravity Wave Activity, Mesospheric Turbulence and Their Relations to Solar Activity Climate and Weather of the Sun-Earth System (CAWSES)
edited by: Franz-Josef Lübken
Gravity waves (GW) are important for the coupling between the different regions of the middle atmosphere. They are normally generated in the troposphere, are filtered by the wind field in the stratosphere and lower mesosphere and dissipate at least partly in upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). The activity of gravity waves, their filtering by the mean circulation, and the variation of GW activity with solar activity have been studied using long-term wind measurements with Medium Frequency (MF) radars and meteor radars at high and middle northern latitudes. The GW activity is characterized by a semi-annual variation with a stronger maximum in winter and a weaker in summer consistent with the selective filtering of westward and eastward propagating GWs by the mean zonal wind. The latitudinal variation of GW activity shows the largest values in summer at mid-latitudes between 65 km and 85 km accompanied with an upward shift of the height of wind reversal towards the pole. Long-term observations of the MLT winds at mid latitudes indicate a stable increase of westward directed winds below about 85 km and an increase of eastward directed winds above 85 km especially during summer. The observed long-term trend of zonal wind at about 75 km goes along with an enhanced activity of GWs with periods of 3 to 6 hours at altitudes between 80 km and 88 km. In addition, the mesosphere responds to severe solar proton events (SPE) with increased eastward directed winds above about 85 km. The vertical coupling from the troposphere up to the lower thermosphere due to gravity waves and planetary waves is discussed for major sudden stratospheric warmings (SSW) for the winters 2006 and 2009.