A case study of gravity wave dissipation in the polar MLT region using sodium LIDAR and radar data
Abstract. This paper is primarily concerned with an event observed from 16:30 to 24:30 UT on 29 October 2010 during a very geomagnetically quiet interval (Kp ≤ 1). The sodium LIDAR observations conducted at Tromsø, Norway (69.6° N, 19.2° E) captured a clearly discernible gravity wave (GW) signature. Derived vertical and horizontal wavelengths, maximum amplitude, apparent and intrinsic period, and horizontal phase velocity were about ~ 11.9 km, ~ 1.38 × 103 km, ~ 15 K, 4 h, ~ 7.7 h, and ~ 96 m s−1, respectively, between a height of 80 and 95 km. Of particular interest is a temporal development of the uppermost altitude that the GW reached. The GW disappeared around 95 km height between 16:30 and 21:00 UT, while after 21:00 UT the GW appeared to propagate to higher altitudes (above 100 km). We have evaluated three mechanisms (critical-level filtering, convective and dynamic instabilities) for dissipations using data obtained by the sodium LIDAR and a meteor radar. It is found that critical-level filtering did not occur, and the convective and dynamic instabilities occurred on some occasions. MF radar echo power showed significant enhancements between 18:30 and 21:00 UT, and an overturning feature of the sodium mixing ratio was observed between 18:30 and 21:20 UT above about 95 km. From these results, we have concluded that the GW was dissipated by wave breaking and instabilities before 21:00 UT. We have also investigated the difference of the background atmosphere for the two intervals and would suggest that a probable cause of the change in the GW propagation was due to the difference in the temperature gradient of the background atmosphere above 94 km.