Gravity wave saturation in the middle atmosphere: A review of theory and observations


  • David C. Fritts


This paper provides a review of recent advances in our understanding of gravity wave saturation in the middle atmosphere. A brief discussion of those studies leading to the identification of gravity wave effects and their role in middle atmosphere dynamics is presented first. This is followed by a simple development of the linear saturation theory to illustrate the principal effects. Recent extensions to the linear saturation theory, including quasi-linear, nonlinear, and transient effects, are then described. Those studies addressing the role of gravity wave saturation in the mean circulation of the middle atmosphere are also discussed. Finally, observations of gravity wave motions, distribution, and variability and those measurements specifically addressing gravity wave saturation are reviewed.