Articles | Volume 19, issue 5
31 May 2001
 | 31 May 2001

Evidence for thermospheric gravity waves in the southern polar cap from ground-based vertical velocity and photometric observations

J. L. Innis, P. A. Greet, and P. L. Dyson

Abstract. Zenith-directed Fabry-Perot Spectrometer (FPS) and 3-Field Photometer (3FP) observations of the λ630 nm emission (~240 km altitude) were obtained at Davis station, Antarctica, during the austral winter of 1999. Eleven nights of suitable data were searched for significant periodicities common to vertical winds from the FPS and photo-metric variations from the 3FP. Three wave-like events were found, each of around one or more hours in duration, with periods around 15 minutes, vertical velocity amplitudes near 60 ms–1 , horizontal phase velocities around 300 ms–1 , and horizontal wavelengths from 240 to 400 km. These characteristics appear consistent with polar cap gravity waves seen by other workers, and we conclude this is a likely interpretation of our data. Assuming a source height near 125 km altitude, we determine the approximate source location by calculating back along the wave trajectory using the gravity wave property relating angle of ascent and frequency. The wave sources appear to be in the vicinity of the poleward border of the auroral oval, at magnetic local times up to 5 hours before local magnetic midnight.

Key words. Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (thermospheric dynamics; waves and tides)