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An Investigation of Thunderstorms as a Source of ShortPeriod Mesospheric Gravity Waves

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AGU Geophysical Monograph



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For three months during the spring and early summer of 1988, low-light TV images showing wave structure in the near infrared hydroxyl OH nightglow emission peak altitude approx. 87 km were recorded from the Mountain Research Station near Nederland, Colorado 40.0 deg N, 105.6 deg W as part of the AFOSR MAPSTAR88 campaign. Well-defined, coherent wave patterns associated with the passage of short period 1 hour gravity waves were observed on a total of 22 occasions. One potential source of these waves has been studied using radar summary charts to identify regions of strong convection associated with the existence or development of thunderstorms. Comparison of the storm positions with the location and direction of motion of the OH patterns shows that there was always at least one disturbance suitably located in both space and time to have been the source. The analysis presented here is qualitative, but the large number of wave events associated with favorably located convective activity provides strong evidence for a relationship between the observed waves and storms. This result, although preliminary, suggests that thunderstorms are an important source of mesospheric gravity waves at this site and time of year.

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