Secondary Gravity Waves From the Stratospheric Polar Vortex Over ALOMAR Observatory on 12–14 January 2016: Observations and Modeling

Sharon L. Vadas, Erich Becker, Katrina Bossert, Gerd Baumgarten, Lars Hoffmann, V. Lynn Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We analyze the gravity waves (GWs) observed by a Rayleigh lidar at the Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research (ALOMAR) (16.08°E, 69.38°N) in Norway at z ∼ 20–85 km on 12–14 January 2016. These GWs propagate upward and downward away from zknee = 57 and 64 km at a horizontally-displaced location with periods τr ∼ 5–10 hr and vertical wavelengths λz ∼ 9–20 km. Because the hodographs are distorted, we introduce an alternative method to determine the GW parameters. We find that these GWs are medium to large-scale, and propagate north/northwestward with intrinsic horizontal phase speeds of ∼35–65 m/s. Since the GW parameters are similar above and below zknee, these are secondary GWs created by local body forces (LBFs) south/southeast of ALOMAR. We use the nudged HIAMCM (HIgh Altitude Mechanistic general Circulation Model) to model these events. Remarkably, the model reproduces similar GW structures over ALOMAR, with zknee = 58 and 66 km. The event #1 GWs are created by a LBF at ∼35°E, ∼60°N, and z ∼ 58 km. This LBF is created by the breaking and dissipation of primary GWs generated and amplified by the imbalance of the polar night jet below the wind maximum; the primary GWs for this event are created at z ∼ 25–35 km at 49–53°N. We also find that the HIAMCM GWs agree well with those observed by the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) satellite, and that those AIRS GWs south and north of ∼50°N over Europe are mainly mountain waves and GWs from the polar vortex, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JD036985
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 27 2023


  • AIRS observations
  • lidar observations
  • mountain waves
  • polar vortex
  • secondary gravity waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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