Using sub-limb observations to measure gravity waves excited by convection

Corwin J. Wright, Jörn Ungermann, Peter Preusse, Inna Polichtchouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Convective gravity waves are a major driver of atmospheric circulation, including the stratospheric and mesospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and the Brewer–Dobson circulation. Previous work shows clear evidence that these waves can be excited by both single convective cells and by mesoscale convective complexes acting as a single unit. However, the partitioning of the generated waves and, crucially for atmospheric model development, the flux of momentum they transport between these two types of excitation process remains highly uncertain due to a fundamental lack of suitable observations at the global scale. Here, we use both theoretical calculations and sampled output from a high-resolution weather model to demonstrate that a satellite instrument using a sub-limb geometry would be well suited to characterising the short-vertical short-horizontal gravity waves these systems produce, and hence to provide the scientific knowledge needed to identify the relative wave-driving contribution of these two types of convective wave excitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14 (2023)
Journalnpj Microgravity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research used the resources of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility supported under Contract DE-AC05-00OR22725. C.J.W. is funded by Royal Society University Research Fellowship UF160545 and by NERC grants NE/S00985X/1, NE/V01837X/1 and NE/W003201/1.

The observational filter simulations presented in Fig. 2 have been generated
computationally as described in the text and associated references and do not
incorporate any underlying data. As the underlying simulation output used in
Figs. 3–5 is extremely large (42GB per 1-h timestep) we cannot easily archive these
data separately for this study, but the retrieved brightness temperatures for the
regions and times used in our study have been archived at Zenodo (
10.5281/zenodo.6637647) as Matlab-format data files.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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