Gravity waves in the mesopause region observed by meteor radar: 1. A simple measurement technique

Nicholas J Mitchell, Charlotte L Beldon

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A simple new technique for measuring gravity-wave activity using meteor radars is described. The technique uses the variance of horizontal wind velocities measured by individual meteors as a proxy for the activity of the gravity-wave field. It is sensitive to gravity waves with horizontal wavelengths of up to about 400 km and periods up to about 3 h. The technique can be used to investigate the vertical structure of the gravity-wave field at heights between approximately 80 and 100 km and with a time resolution of approximately 6 h. The technique is demonstrated using data from an all-sky meteor radar based at Rothera, Antarctica (68 degrees S, 68 degrees W). Observations made over Rothera for 2006 and 2007 reveal a seasonal behaviour with a semi-annual cycle in wave activity. Wave activity maximises in summer and winter and minimises at the equinoxes. Monthly mean gravity-wave activity increases with height in all seasons except in summer when gravity-wave variances show little or no increase with height below 90 km. Comparisons between the gravity-wave activity determined by this meteor-variance technique and other measurements at similar latitudes in the Antarctic reveal generally good agreement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-874
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Issue number8-9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Mesopause
  • Polar
  • Gravity waves
  • Meteor radar
  • Dynamics
  • Mesosphere and lower thermosphere


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