Articles | Volume 34, issue 9
Regular paper
19 Sep 2016
Regular paper |  | 19 Sep 2016

Atmospheric inertia-gravity waves retrieved from level-2 data of the satellite microwave limb sounder Aura/MLS

Klemens Hocke, Martin Lainer, Lorena Moreira, Jonas Hagen, Susana Fernandez Vidal, and Franziska Schranz

Abstract. The temperature profiles of the satellite experiment Aura/MLS are horizontally spaced by 1.5° or 165 km along the satellite orbit. These level-2 data contain valuable information about horizontal fluctuations in temperature, which are mainly induced by inertia-gravity waves. Wave periods of 2–12 h, horizontal wavelengths of 200–1500 km, and vertical wavelengths of 6–30 km efficiently contribute to the standard deviation of the horizontal temperature fluctuations. The study retrieves and discusses the global distributions of inertia-gravity waves in the stratosphere and mesosphere during July 2015 and January 2016. We find many patterns that were previously present in data of TIMED/SABER, Aura/HIRDLS, and ECMWF analysis. However, it seems that Aura/MLS achieves a higher vertical resolution in the gravity wave maps since the maps are derived from the analysis of horizontal fluctuations along the orbit of the sounding volume. The zonal mean of the inertia-gravity wave distribution shows vertical modulations with scales of 10–20 km. Enhanced wave amplitudes occur in regions of increased zonal wind or in the vicinity of strong wind gradients. Further, we find a banana-like shape of enhanced inertia-gravity waves above the Andes in the winter mesosphere. We find areas of enhanced inertia-gravity wave activity above tropical deep convection zones at 100 hPa (z ∼ 13 km). Finally, we study the temporal evolution of inertia-gravity wave activity at 100 hPa in the African longitude sector from December 2015 to February 2016.

Short summary
The dense horizontal sampling of atmospheric temperature profiles by the microwave limb sounder MLS on the NASA satellite AURA permit the estimation of global distributions of inertia-gravity waves (IGWs) in the middle atmosphere. We present and discuss the estimated global distributions of IGWs for July 2015 and January 2016. A dependence on the zonal wind distribution is obvious. The distributions of IGWs are a bit similar to the global distributions of small-scale gravity waves.