Momentum Flux Spectra of a Mountain Wave Event Over New Zealand

Katrina Bossert, David C. Fritts, Christopher J. Heale, Stephen D. Eckermann, John M.C. Plane, Jonathan B. Snively, Bifford P. Williams, Iain M. Reid, Damian J. Murphy, Andrew J. Spargo, Andrew D. MacKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


During the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) 13 July 2014 research flight over the South Island of New Zealand, a multiscale spectrum of mountain waves (MWs) was observed. High-resolution measurements of sodium densities were available from ~70 to 100 km for the duration of this flight. A comprehensive technique is presented for obtaining temperature perturbations, T′, from sodium mixing ratios over a range of altitudes, and these T′ were used to calculate the momentum flux (MF) spectra with respect to horizontal wavelengths, λH, for each flight segment. Spectral analysis revealed MWs with spectral power centered at λH of ~80, 120, and 220 km. The temperature amplitudes of these MWs varied between the four cross-mountain flight legs occurring between 6:10UT and 9:10UT. The average spectral T′ amplitudes near 80 km in altitude ranged from 7–13 K for the 220 km λH MW and 4–8 K for the smaller λH MWs. These amplitudes decayed significantly up to 90 km, where a critical level for MWs was present. The average MF per unit mass near 80 km in altitude ranged from ~13 to 60 m2/s2 across the varying spectra over the duration of the research flight and decayed to ~0 by 88 km in altitude. These MFs are large compared to zonal means and highlight the importance of MWs in the momentum budget of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere at times when they reach these altitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9980-9991
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 27 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • gravity waves
  • momentum flux
  • mountain waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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