Articles | Volume 27, issue 2
02 Feb 2009
 | 02 Feb 2009

Characteristics of mesospheric gravity waves near the magnetic equator, Brazil, during the SpreadFEx campaign

M. J. Taylor, P.-D. Pautet, A. F. Medeiros, R. Buriti, J. Fechine, D. C. Fritts, S. L. Vadas, H. Takahashi, and F. T. São Sabbas

Abstract. As part of the SpreadFEx campaign, coordinated optical and radio measurements were made from Brazil to investigate the occurrence and properties of equatorial Spread F, and to characterize the regional mesospheric gravity wave field. All-sky image measurements were made from two sites: Brasilia and Cariri located ~10° S of the magnetic equator and separated by ~1500 km. In particular, the observations from Brasilia provided key data in relatively close proximity to expected convective sources of the gravity waves. High-quality image measurements of the mesospheric OH emission and the thermospheric OI (630 nm) emission were made during two consecutive new moon periods (22 September to 9 November 2005) providing extensive data on the occurrence and properties of F-region depletions and regional measurements of the dominant gravity wave characteristics at each site.

A total of 120 wave displays were observed, comprising 94 short-period events and 26 medium-scale gravity waves. The characteristics of the small-scale waves agreed well with previous gravity wave studies from Brazil and other sites. However, significant differences in the wave propagation headings indicate dissimilar source regions for the Brasilia and Cariri datasets. The observed medium-scale gravity wave events constitute an important new dataset to study their mesospheric properties at equatorial latitudes. These data exhibited similar propagation headings to the short-period events, suggesting they originated from the same source regions. Medium-scale waves are generally less susceptible to wind filtering effects and modeling studies utilizing these data have successfully identified localized regions of strong convection, mainly to the west of Brasilia, as their most likely sources (Vadas et al., 2009).