Journal of Geophysical Research

Theoretical and observed acoustic-gravity waves from explosive sources in the atmosphere


  • David G. Harkrider


A matrix formulation is used to derive the pressure variation for acoustic-gravity waves from an explosive source in an atmosphere modeled by a large number of isothermal layers. Comparison of theoretical and observed barograms from large thermonuclear explosions leads to the following conclusions: (1) The major features on the barogram can be explained by the superposition of four modes, (2) different parts of the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere control the relative excitation of these modes, (3) a scaled point source is sufficient to model thermonuclear explosions, (4) the observed shift in dominance of certain frequencies with yield and altitude can be explained by means of the empirical scaling laws derived from the direct wave near the explosion, and (5) out to 50° from the source, the observed variation of amplitude with distance can be accounted for by geometrical spreading over a spherical surface.