1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
2Naval Research Laboratory, Washington DC 20375, USA
Abstract. As the first gravity wave (GW) climatology study using nadir-viewing infrared sounders, 50 Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) radiance channels are selected to estimate GW variances at pressure levels between 2–100 hPa. The GW variance for each scan in the cross-track direction is derived from radiance perturbations in the scan, independently of adjacent scans along the orbit. Since the scanning swaths are perpendicular to the satellite orbits, which are inclined meridionally at most latitudes, the zonal component of GW propagation can be inferred by differencing the variances derived between the westmost and the eastmost viewing angles.
Consistent with previous GW studies using various satellite instruments, monthly mean AIRS variance shows large enhancements over meridionally oriented mountain ranges as well as some islands at winter hemisphere high latitudes. Enhanced wave activities are also found above tropical deep convective regions. GWs prefer to propagate westward above mountain ranges, and eastward above deep convection. AIRS 90 field-of-views (FOVs), ranging from +48° to −48° off nadir, can detect large-amplitude GWs with a phase velocity propagating preferentially at steep angles (e.g., those from orographic and convective sources). The annual cycle dominates the GW variances and the preferred propagation directions for all latitudes. Quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) signals are also found in the tropical lower stratosphere despite their small amplitudes.
From 90 AIRS FOV radiance measurements, we are able to clearly identify measurement noises, high-frequency internal GWs, and low-frequency inertia GWs. Even though the vertical wavelengths of inertia GWs are shorter than the thickness of instrument weighting functions, simulations support the AIRS sensitivity to these waves. The novel discovery of AIRS capability of observing shallow inertia GWs will expand the potential of satellite GW remote sensing and provide further constraints on the GW drag parameterization schemes in the general circulation models (GCMs).