Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Research article
09 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 09 Jun 2016

A two-dimensional Stockwell transform for gravity wave analysis of AIRS measurements

Neil P. Hindley, Nathan D. Smith, Corwin J. Wright, D. Andrew S. Rees, and Nicholas J. Mitchell

Abstract. Gravity waves (GWs) play a crucial role in the dynamics of the earth's atmosphere. These waves couple lower, middle and upper atmospheric layers by transporting and depositing energy and momentum from their sources to great heights. The accurate parameterisation of GW momentum flux is of key importance to general circulation models but requires accurate measurement of GW properties, which has proved challenging. For more than a decade, the nadir-viewing Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite has made global, two-dimensional (2-D) measurements of stratospheric radiances in which GWs can be detected. However, one problem with current one-dimensional methods for GW analysis of these data is that they can introduce significant unwanted biases. Here, we present a new analysis method that resolves this problem. Our method uses a 2-D Stockwell transform (2DST) to measure GW amplitudes, horizontal wavelengths and directions of propagation using both the along-track and cross-track dimensions simultaneously. We first test our new method and demonstrate that it can accurately measure GW properties in a specified wave field. We then show that by using a new elliptical spectral window in the 2DST, in place of the traditional Gaussian, we can dramatically improve the recovery of wave amplitude over the standard approach. We then use our improved method to measure GW properties and momentum fluxes in AIRS measurements over two regions known to be intense hotspots of GW activity: (i) the Drake Passage/Antarctic Peninsula and (ii) the isolated mountainous island of South Georgia. The significance of our new 2DST method is that it provides more accurate, unbiased and better localised measurements of key GW properties compared to most current methods. The added flexibility offered by the scaling parameter and our new spectral window presented here extend the usefulness of our 2DST method to other areas of geophysical data analysis and beyond.

Short summary
Gravity waves are medium-sized momentum-carrying atmospheric waves that nearly all weather and climate models struggle to represent. Thus, the accurate global measurement of gravity-wave properties in the real atmosphere is of key importance. Here we use a new two-dimensional Stockwell transform (2-DST) method to measure key GW properties in 2-D satellite data. We show that our 2-DST approach greatly improves upon current methods, particularly if a new elliptical spectral window is used.