Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Physics


Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Matthew D. Zettergren, PhD.

First Committee Member

Michael P. Hichey, PhD.

Second Committee Member

John M. Hughes, PhD.


Atmospheric dynamics comprise of a multitude of phenomena from various sources that affect the entire climate of the globe. Some of these phenomena include Atmospheric Gravity Waves which are ubiquitous features around the planet. They are important mechanisms for the transport of momentum and energy from the lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere. The sun is the ultimate source of energy for the earth and the primary driver of atmospheric dynamics. The 11-year solar cycle of the sun has had a noticeable effect on the overall climate of the earth in the past. More recent work has seen the diurnal tides being directly influenced by the change in solar energy over the solar cycle at the South Pole. The different types of atmospheric waves interact with each other in complex manners that are still a subject of research today. Gravity waves are known to be modulated by solar tides and vice versa so a change in the tides will induce a change in gravity waves. The solar cycle influence on tides can then be seen overall in gravity wave wavelengths and speeds. A CCD Spectrometer is used to gather temperatures and brightness's of two separate airglow layers in the upper atmosphere at 87km (OH) and 93km (O2). Two different years are chosen to be analyzed for solar cycle dependencies. One year is 2002, during the previous time of maximum solar activity and the other is 2010, just after the last minimum of solar activity. Time series of temperatures and brightness's are analyzed for gravity waves activity though a lomb-scargle frequency analysis and a least-squares fit using a sinecosine wave model. Using gravity waves theory and four different detection methods, the vertical and horizontal wavelengths, phase speeds and group velocities are found for these waves during the 2002 data gathering season and the 2010 data gathering season. Most wave parameters are found to have an overall increase from 2002 to 2010 with the exception being the derived horizontal wavelengths. The calculated wave parameters are found to be in agreement with past gravity wave detections.