Assessment of gravity wave momentum flux measurement capabilities by meteor radars having different transmitter power and antenna configurations

D.C. Fritts, D. Janches, W.K. Hocking, N.J. Mitchell, M.J. Taylor

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Measurement capabilities of five meteor radars are assessed and compared to determine how well radars having different transmitted power and antenna configurations perform in defining mean winds, tidal amplitudes, and gravity wave (GW) momentum fluxes. The five radars include two new-generation meteor radars on Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (53.8°S) and on King George Island in the Antarctic (62.1°S) and conventional meteor radars at Socorro, New Mexico (34.1°N, 106.9°W), Bear Lake Observatory, Utah (∼41.9°N, 111.4°W), and Yellowknife, Canada (62.5°N, 114.3°W). Our assessment employs observed meteor distributions for June of 2009, 2010, or 2011 for each radar and a set of seven test motion fields including various superpositions of mean winds, constant diurnal tides, constant and variable semidiurnal tides, and superposed GWs having various amplitudes, scales, periods, directions of propagation, momentum fluxes, and intermittencies. Radars having higher power and/or antenna patterns yielding higher meteor counts at small zenith angles perform well in defining monthly and daily mean winds, tidal amplitudes, and GW momentum fluxes, though with expected larger uncertainties in the daily estimates. Conventional radars having lower power and a single transmitting antenna are able to describe monthly mean winds and tidal amplitudes reasonably well, especially at altitudes having the highest meteor counts. They also provide reasonable estimates of GW momentum fluxes at the altitudes having the highest meteor counts; however, these estimates are subject to uncertainties of ∼20 to 50% and uncertainties rapidly become excessive at higher and lower altitudes. Estimates of all quantities degrade somewhat for more complex motion fields.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberD10108
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue numberD10
Early online date19 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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