AIRS Satellite Observations of Gravity Waves During the 2009 Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event

S. Kalisch, H. Y. Chun

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2 Citations (Scopus)


A major sudden stratospheric warming event occurred on January 24, 2009 and showed a unique and pronounced planetary wave 2 amplitude with a subsequent split in the polar vortex. While research about the role of planetary waves during sudden stratospheric warming events exists, the contribution of gravity waves (GWs) is still uncertain. We therefore investigated the role of stratospheric GWs in the Northern Hemisphere during the 2009 winter season. We use observational data from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) satellite instrument for our analysis. Variances in the 4.3 µm brightness temperature perturbations are analyzed together with Level 3 temperature retrievals to investigate the connection between GWs and the warming event. Our planetary wave analysis shows zonal wavenumber 1 amplitudes during December 2008 and early January 2009. However, zonal wavenumber 2 is more dominant between mid-January and January 24, 2009. We also found a decrease in Northern hemisphere GW activity a few days before the maximum warming and the wind reversal occur at 30 hPa altitude. Furthermore, prominent GW activity was found at Labrador Peninsula and southern Greenland, both are locations of elevated GW activity (hotspots), until mid-January 2009. We discuss the potential of these orographic GWs to amplify planetary waves during the onset of the sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JD034073
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb 27

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the South Korea government (MSIT) (2017R1A2B2008025). The authors thank Lars Hoffmann for his helpful comments and advice.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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