Category : Technology
The discovery of the mystery of this phenomenon in the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere will help us to understand the processes determining the weather conditions on the whole planet.
Scientists have prepared special balloons, on which there are 7 cameras recording high resolution image, measuring instruments, as well as LIDAR and memory banks with a capacity of 32 terabytes. For 5 days, they observed the upper atmosphere from the height of nearly 80 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, in the area between Scandinavia and Canada.
During the observation, specialists made 6 million photos and collected as many as 120 terabytes of extremely valuable data. The main purpose of the observations were the famous and beautiful silvery clouds. They appear in the mesosphere over the polar regions mainly in June and July.
Atmospheric gravitational waves are not visible to our eyes, but thanks to the silvery clouds we can observe their formation and propagation in the atmosphere. Until now we could see them only from the surface of the Earth or from planes, that is in a two-dimensional approach, but thanks to balloons and cameras, now scientists will be able to see their vertical cross-section and take a closer look at them in 3D.
Atmospheric gravity waves transfer energy from the lower parts of the atmosphere and cause turbulence. Scientists from NASA focused on the highest occurring, but the world of meteorology is also known to be more mundane.
They occur, for example, above the oceans, where there are usually no major obstacles, and the atmosphere is stable, the air currents are then perfectly horizontal. However, when they reach volcanic islets, which are not short of the Pacific, they begin to undergo deformations. This happens when the stratospheric clouds called Stratocumulus, which are the most common species of cloud on our planet, reach the hills.
Such an obstacle causes the so-called atmospheric gravitational wave. Clouds hitting above the mountain start to float on the windward side, and then fall again on the leeward side. A wave forms, which is continued even over the distance of the next hundreds or thousands of kilometers, until the frequency of the waves decreases.
You can compare it to throwing a pebble into the calm water of the lake. Then, waves appear that radiate from the point where the pebbles hit the surface of the water. In the case of the Earth's atmosphere, where very strong winds blow, atmospheric gravitational waves usually propagate in one direction, forming Stratocumulus clouds into something like an arrow. They are called wave clouds then. They can also create so-called convection due to convection. streets of clouds.
A better understanding of the role of these fascinating phenomena in shaping the atmospheric conditions on our planet will help us prepare much more accurate weather forecasts.