Horizontal and vertical propagation and dissipation of gravity waves in the thermosphere from lower atmospheric and thermospheric sources

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Abstract

[1] The dissipation of high-frequency gravity waves (GWs) in the thermosphere is primarily due to kinematic viscosity and thermal diffusivity. Recently, an anelastic GW dispersion relation was derived which includes the damping effects of kinematic viscosity and thermal diffusivity in the thermosphere and which is valid before and during dissipation. Using a ray trace model which incorporates this new dispersion relation, we explore many GW properties that result from this dispersion relation for a wide range of thermospheric temperatures. We calculate the dissipation altitudes, horizontal distances traveled, times taken, and maximum vertical wavelengths prior to dissipation in the thermosphere for a wide range of upward-propagating GWs that originate in the lower atmosphere and at several altitudes in the thermosphere. We show that the vertical wavelengths of dissipating GWs, λz(zdiss), increases exponentially with altitude, although with a smaller slope for z > 200 km. We also show how the horizontal wavelength, λH, and wave period spectra change with altitude for dissipating GWs. We find that a new dissipation condition can predict our results for λz(zdiss) very well up to altitudes of ∼500 km. We also find that a GW spectrum excited from convection shifts to increasingly larger λz and λH with altitude in the thermosphere that are not characteristic of the initial convective scales. Additionally, a lower thermospheric shear shifts this spectrum to even larger λz, consistent with observations. Finally, we show that our results agree well with observations.

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