Solar terminator waves in surface pressure observations

Hedlin, MAH, De Groot-Hedlin CD, Forbes JM, Drob DP.  2018.  Solar terminator waves in surface pressure observations. Geophysical Research Letters. 45:5213-5219.

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atmosphere, beamforming, eclipse, generation, geology, Gravity waves, Solar terminator, Terminator waves


We report observations of waveforms in surface pressure made over several years by a network of ground-level barometers in the eastern United States. The waveforms can be reconstructed by superimposing the 4th through 10th subharmonics of the solar day. Some of these solar harmonics are likely generated by the temperature and pressure gradients across the solar terminators. The measurements presented here enable a wave detection analysis which indicates that some waveforms are coherent between stations with a median speed of 49.7 m/s to the southeast. We interpret these propagating signals, which are interference patterns created by internal gravity waves with periods that are subharmonics of a solar day, as a previously undiscovered type of terminator wave. The waveforms appear predominantly postsunrise during winter and postsunset in summer. Their quasi-eastward propagation direction suggests an analogy with "stern" waves left behind by the faster, westward-moving terminator.