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Physical Sciences

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In November 1999 a new near-IR airglow imaging system was deployed at the Starfire Optical Range outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This system allowed wide angle images of the airglow to be collected, with high signal to noise, every 3 seconds with a one second integration time. At approximately 1000 UT on November 17, 1999, a fast wavelike disturbance was seen propagating through the OH Meinel airglow layer. This wave had an observed period of ≈215 seconds, an observed phase velocity of ≈160 m/s and a horizontal wavelength of ≈35 km. This phase velocity is among the fastest yet reported using an imager viewing the OH Meinel bands, while the wave period is among the shortest. Simultaneous Na lidar wind and temperature data from 80 to nearly 110 km altitude allow the intrinsic properties of the wave to be calculated. The Einaudi and Hines [1970] WKB approximation for the acoustic-gravity wave dispersion relation was used to calculate the wave’s intrinsic properties. Using this approach indicates that the observed disturbance was an external acoustic wave in the 90 to 107 km altitude region and an external gravity wave at other altitudes between 80 and 90 km. Using model atmospheric data for altitudes below and above this altitude regime indicates that the wave is essentially external everywhere except perhaps in narrow regions around 80 and 105–110 km. This is confirmed using a more exact full-wave model analysis. The observations and model results suggest that this wave was not generated in the troposphere and propagated up to the mesosphere, but rather near 100 km altitude where it was possibly generated by a Leonids meteor.

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres



American Geophysical Union