A study of the dynamics of the equatorial lower stratosphere by use of ultra-long-duration balloons: 2. Gravity waves


  • A. Hertzog,

  • F. Vial


This study is the companion paper of Vial et al. [this issue]. A campaign of ultra-long-duration, superpressure balloons in the equatorial lower stratosphere was held in September 1998. By conception these balloons evolve on isopycnic surfaces. Pressure and position were measured every 12 min, which enable to infer the characteristics of gravity waves with periods between 1 hour and 1 day in this region of the atmosphere. The intrinsic-frequency spectra of horizontal wind fluctuations exhibit a −2 slope, while the one associated with vertical-wind fluctuations is flat. Significant inhomogeneity of the wave activity is observed, and the variance of the shortest frequency waves is found to be linked to the position of the balloons with respect to the Intertropical Convergence Zone. On average, the total energy associated with gravity waves in the period range studied in this paper is found to be ∼ 7 J kg−1. Calculations of momentum flux have also been undertaken. It appears that there is an approximate equipartition of flux between eastward and westward propagating gravity waves and that the absolute value of the flux is 8–12 × 10−3 m2 s−2 at 20 km. A larger flux is also observed above convective regions. These values suggest that gravity waves may carry the largest part of the Eliassen-Palm flux required for the driving of the quasi-biennial oscillation.