Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres






American Geophysical Union

Publication Date



Since 2010, Utah State University has operated an infrared Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole station to investigate the upper atmosphere dynamics and temperature deep within the vortex. A surprising number of “frontal” gravity wave events (86) were recorded in the mesospheric OH(3,1) band intensity and rotational temperature images (typical altitude of ~87 km) during four austral winters (2012–2015). These events are gravity waves (GWs) characterized by a sharp leading wave front followed by a quasi-monochromatic wave train that grows with time. A particular subset of frontal gravity wave events has been identified in the past (Dewan & Picard, 1998) as “bores.” These are usually associated with wave ducting within stable mesospheric inversion layers, which allow them to propagate over very large distances. They have been observed on numerous occasions from low-latitude and midlatitude sites, but to date, very few have been reported at high latitudes. This study provides new analyses of the characteristics of frontal events at high latitudes and shows that most of them are likely ducted. The occurrence of these frontal GW events over this isolated region strongly supports the existence of horizontally extensive mesospheric thermal inversion layers over Antarctica, leading to regions of enhanced stability necessary for GW trapping and ducting.

Available for download on Monday, July 09, 2018