On the detection and attribution of gravity waves generated by the 20 March 2015 solar eclipse

Graeme Marlton, Paul Williams, Kerianne Nicoll

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Internal gravity waves are generated as adjustment radiation whenever a sudden change in forcing causes the atmosphere to depart from its large-scale balanced state. Such a forcing anomaly occurs during a solar eclipse, when the Moon's shadow cools part of the Earth's surface. The resulting atmospheric gravity waves are associated with pressure and temperature perturbations, which in principle are detectable both at the surface and aloft. In this study, surface pressure and temperature data from two UK sites at Reading and Lerwick are analysed for eclipse-driven gravity-wave perturbations during the 20 March 2015 solar eclipse over north-west Europe. Radiosonde wind data from the same two sites are also analysed using a moving parcel analysis method, to determine the periodicities of the waves aloft. On this occasion, the perturbations both at the surface and aloft are found not to be confidently attributable to eclipse-driven gravity waves. We conclude that the complex synoptic weather conditions over the UK at the time of this particular eclipse helped to mask any eclipse-driven gravity waves.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2016


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