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Propagation characteristics of nighttime mesospheric and thermospheric waves observed by optical mesosphere thermosphere imagers at middle and low latitudes

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We review measurements of nighttime atmospheric/ionospheric waves in the upper atmosphere in Japan, Indonesia, and Australia, using all-sky airglow imagers of optical mesosphere thermosphere imagers (OMTIs). The imagers observe two-dimensional patterns of airglow emissions from oxygen (wavelength: 557.7 nm) and hydroxyl (OH) (near-infrared band) in the mesopause region (80–100 km) and from oxygen (630.0 nm) in the thermosphere/ionosphere (200–300 km). Several statistical studies were done to investigate propagation characteristics of small-scale (less than 100 km) gravity waves in the mesopause region and medium-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs, 100–1,000 km) in the thermosphere/ionosphere. Clear seasonal variations of occurrence and propagation directions were reported for these waves. The propagation directions in the mesopause region are controlled by wind filtering, ducting processes and relative location to the wave sources in the troposphere. Poleward-propagating waves tend to be observed in the summer in the mesopause region at several stations, suggesting that mesospheric gravity waves are generated by intense convective activity in the equatorial troposphere. On the other hand, systematic equatorward and westward motions were observed for all seasons for nighttime MSTIDs in the midlatitude ionosphere with geomagnetic conjugacy between the northern and southern hemispheres. Ionospheric instabilities may play important role for the generation and propagation of these MSTIDs. We also give an example of simultaneous observation of quasi-periodic southward-moving waves in the mesopause region and in the thermosphere at the geographic equator. From these results, we discuss mean wind acceleration by mesospheric gravity waves and penetration of gravity waves from the mesosphere to the thermosphere.


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Correspondence to K. Shiokawa.

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Key words

  • Gravity wave
  • airglow image
  • mesopause region
  • thermosphere
  • ionosphere