Seasonal variations of the semi-diurnal and diurnal tides in the MLT: Multi-year MF radar observations from 2 to 70°N, and the GSWM tidal model

Alan Manson, Chris Meek, Maura Hagan, Chris Hall, Wayne Hocking, John MacDougall, Steven Franke, Dennis Riggin, David Fritts, Robert Vincent, Mark Burrage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Continuous observations of the wind field have been made by six Medium Frequency Radars (MFRs), located between the equator and high northern latitudes: Christmas Islands (2°N), Hawaii (22°N), Urbana (40°N), London (43°N), Saskatoon (52°N) and Tromso (70°N). Data have been sought for the time interval 1990-1997, and typically 5 years of data have become available from each station, to demonstrate the level of annual consistency and variability. Common harmonic analysis is applied so that the monthly amplitudes and phases of the semi-diurnal (SD) and diurnal (D) wind oscillations are available in the height range of (typically) 75-95 km in the upper Middle Atmosphere. Comparisons are made with tides from the Global Scale Wave Model (GSWM), which are available for 3-month seasons. The emphasis is upon the monthly climatologies at each location based upon comparisons of profiles, and also latitudinal plots of amplitudes and phases at particular heights. For the diurnal tide, the agreement between observations and model is now quite excellent with modelled values frequently lying within the range of yearly values. Both observations and model demonstrate strong seasonal changes. This result is a striking improvement over the comparisons of 1989 (JATP, Special issue). In particular, the phases and phase-gradients for the non-winter months at mid- to high-latitudes are now in excellent agreement. Some of the low latitude discrepancies are attributed to the existence of non-migrating tidal components associated with tropospheric latent heat release. For the semi-diurnal tide, the obsrved strong transitions between clear solstitial states are less well captured by the model. There is little evidence for improvement over the promising comparisons of 1989. In particular, the late-summer/autumnal tidal maximum of mid-latitudes is observed to be larger, and with strong monthly variability. Also the summer modelled tide has unobserved short (20 km) wavelengths at high latitudes, and much smaller amplitudes than observed at all extratropical locations. Possible improvements for the GSWM's simulations of the SD tide are discussed, which involve migrating tidal modes due to tropospheric latent heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-828
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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