Three-dimensional tomographic reconstruction of atmospheric gravity waves in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT)

Song, Rui; Kaufmann, Martin; Ern, Manfred; Ungermann, Jörn; Liu, Guang; Riese, Martin

Gravity waves (GWs) have been intensively studied over recent decades because of their dominant role in the dynamics of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). The momentum deposition caused by breaking GWs determines the basic structure and drives the large-scale circulation in the MLT. Satellite observations provide a way to qualify the properties and effects of GWs on a global scale. As GWs can propagate vertically and horizontally in the atmosphere, resolving both horizontal and vertical wavelengths is important for the quantification of a wave. However, this can hardly be achieved by one instrument with a good spatial coverage and resolution. In this paper, we propose a new observation strategy, called “sweep mode”, for a real three-dimensional (3-D) tomographic reconstruction of GWs in the MLT by modifying the observation geometry of conventional limb sounding measurements. It enhances the horizontal resolution that typical limb sounders can achieve, while at the same time retaining the good vertical resolution they have. This observation strategy is simulated for retrieving temperatures from measurements of the rotational structure of the inline-formulaO2 A-band airglow. The idea of this observation strategy is to sweep the line of sight (LOS) of the limb sounder horizontally across the orbital track during the flight. Therefore, two-dimensional (2-D) slices, i.e., vertical planes, that reveal the projection of GWs can be observed in the direction along and across the orbital track, respectively. The 3-D wave vector is then reproduced by combining the projected 2-D wave slices in the two directions. The feasibility of this sweep-mode tomographic retrieval approach is assessed using simulated measurements. It shows that the horizontal resolution in both along- and across-track directions is affected by an adjustable turning angle, which also determines the spatial coverage of this observation mode. The retrieval results can reduce the errors in deducing momentum flux substantially by providing an unbiased estimation of the real horizontal wavelength of a wave.

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Song, Rui / Kaufmann, Martin / Ern, Manfred / et al: Three-dimensional tomographic reconstruction of atmospheric gravity waves in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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