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Keywords:

  • gravity waves;
  • polar mesosphere;
  • wave propagation

[1] As part of a collaborative program between British Antarctic Survey and Utah State University, measurements were made using an all-sky airglow imager located at the U.K. Halley Station (76°S, 27°W) during the 2000 and 2001 austral winter seasons from April through to early September. A co-located imaging Doppler interferometer was utilized to obtain coincident wind measurements for a total of 171 wave events. This study comprises the first detailed climatological investigation of the propagation nature (freely propagating, Doppler ducted, or evanescent) of individual quasi-monochromatic, short-period wave events at a high southern latitude. Distributions of the derived vertical wavelength exhibit an interquartile range from ∼16–48 km with a median vertical wavelength of 21 km. The majority of the wave events were found to be freely propagating waves, with only ∼5% exhibiting a clear Doppler ducted signature, while 15% of the waves were found to be evanescent in nature. Although no coincident temperature measurements were available, subsequent SABER temperature measurements suggest that up to ∼28% of the measured temperature profiles are capable of providing a ducted environment for the observed wave field. This is in sharp contrast to findings at mid- and low latitudes where these waves have been shown to be prone to Doppler ducted motion. It is suggested that the relatively weak wind field and associated tidal wind amplitudes over Halley are not capable of forming a significant Doppler ducted region to sustain a substantial amount of ducted waves belonging to the detectable spectrum of the airglow imager. As these wind fields are comparable to wind fields found at other polar latitudes, we hypothesize that the majority of short-period gravity waves observed in the polar mesosphere are freely propagating and thus an important source of energy transfer into the MLT region.