The variations of the horizontal phase velocity of an internal gravity wave, generated by wave “blocking” or “reflection” due to an inhomogeneous wind field, have been predicted theoretically and numerically investigated but had yet to be captured experimentally. In this paper, through a collaborative observation campaign using a sodium (Na) Temperature/Wind lidar and a collocated Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper (AMTM) at Utah State University (USU), we report the first potential evidence of such a unique gravity wave process. The study shows that a small-scale wave, captured by the AMTM, with initial observed horizontal phase velocity of 37 ± 5 m/s toward the northwest direction, experienced a large and increasing headwind as it was propagating in the AMTM field of view. This resulted in significant deceleration along its initial traveling direction, and it became quasi-stationary before it was “reflected” to the opposite direction at later time. The USU Na lidar measured the horizontal wind and temperature during the event, when the wave was found traveling within a temperature inversion layer and experiencing an increasing headwind relative to the wave. The wind agrees well with the expected value for wave blocking suggested by the wave tracing theory, implying the existence of a large horizontal wind gradient that night near the OH layer altitudes. The study indicates the critical role of horizontal winds and their horizontal gradients in determining propagation in vertical and horizontal directions.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
American Geophysical Union
Scholarly Commons Citation
Criddle, N. R., Pautet, P.‐D., Yuan, T., Heale, C., Snively, J., Zhao, Y., & Taylor, M. J. (2020). Evidence for horizontal blocking and reflection of a small‐scale gravity wave in the mesosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 124, e2019JD031828. https://doi.org/ 10.1029/2019JD031828