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Daytona Beach


Department of Physical Sciences

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During the Arecibo Initiative for Dynamics of the Atmosphere (AIDA) campaign in 1989 a characteristic of gravity wave perturbations observed in mesopause region airglow emissions was that airglow brightness fluctuations and airglow-derived temperature fluctuations often occurred either in phase or in antiphase. This stimulated the development of a theory suggesting that such in-phase fluctuations were most probably the result of strong reflections occurring in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere region. Recent examination of a particular wave event and application of simple WKB-type theory has appeared to support this hypothesis. Here we use a full-wave model and a WKB-type model, each coupled with a chemical-airglow fluctuation model describing O2 atmospheric and OH Meinel airglow fluctuations, to assess the strength of wave reflection and also to explicitly calculate the phase difference between the airglow brightness and the temperature fluctuations. Our results suggest that reflection is not strong for the particular wave event, and the model produces fairly large phase differences between the airglow brightness and the temperature fluctuations (∼35° and ∼134°–165° for the O2 atmospheric and OH airglow emissions, respectively). These results are not particularly sensitive to the nominal mean winds used in the simulations. There is an instance when a region of minimum refractive index occurs directly above a region in which reflection is strongest, suggesting that the two are related. However, the reflection does not appear to be strong. Our results suggest that chemical effects can account for the inferred phases of the observed airglow fluctuations and that effects associated with wave reflection appear to play a relatively minor role in the airglow fluctuations.

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres



American Geophysical Union