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Observation and Theory of Small-Scale Atmospheric Gravity Wave Propagation and Forcing in the Earth's Upper Atmosphere

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Atmospheric gravity waves play a crucial role in controlling atmospheric structure, seasonal variability, and circulation. Decreasing density with height causes large growth in wave amplitudes which can then generate large disturbances at high altitudes. Remote sensing techniques now allow us to investigate the effects of gravity waves on the atmosphere and here we utilize novel airglow image and wind data recorded from the Bear Lake Observatory, UT and from the AEOS Facility, Maui HI. In particular our analysis provides valuable new information on the upward transport of momentum due to small-scale gravity waves which, for example, can create "turbulent" conditions experienced by the space shuttle during reentry. Our goal is to improve current knowledge of the upper atmosphere and hence to better understand seasonal variability and possible climatological changes. This research is important for the development of high-altitude weather forecasting for future inter-hemispheric flight


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