Articles | Volume 32, issue 10
Regular paper
07 Oct 2014
Regular paper |  | 07 Oct 2014

A case study of gravity wave dissipation in the polar MLT region using sodium LIDAR and radar data

T. Takahashi, S. Nozawa, M. Tsutsumi, C. Hall, S. Suzuki, T. T. Tsuda, T. D. Kawahara, N. Saito, S. Oyama, S. Wada, T. Kawabata, H. Fujiwara, A. Brekke, A. Manson, C. Meek, and R. Fujii

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.