Evidence of gravity waves into the atmosphere during the March 2006 total solar eclipse
- 1National Observatory of Athens, V. Pavlou & I. Metaxa, P. Penteli, 15236, Athens, Greece
- 2Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Physics Department, Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Thessaloniki, Greece
- 3Foundation for Biomedical Research, Academy of Athens, Greece
- 4University of Crete, Chemistry Department, Environmental and Chemical Processes Laboratory, Crete, Greece
Abstract. This study aims at providing experimental evidence, to support the hypothesis according to which the movement of the moon's shadow sweeping the ozone layer at supersonic speed, during a solar eclipse, creates gravity waves in the atmosphere. An experiment was conducted to study eclipse induced thermal fluctuations in the ozone layer (via measurements of total ozone column, ozone photolysis rates and UV irradiance), the ionosphere (Ionosonde Total Electron Content – ITEC, peak electron density height – hmF2), and the troposphere (temperature, relative humidity), before, during and after the total solar eclipse of 29 March 2006. We found the existence of eclipse induced dominant oscillations in the parameters related to the ozone layer and the ionosphere, with periods ranging between 30–40 min. Cross-spectrum analyses resulted to statistically significant square coherences between the observed oscillations, strengthening thermal stratospheric ozone forcing as the main mechanism for GWs. Additional support for a source below the ionosphere was provided by the amplitude of the oscillations in the ionospheric electron density, which increased upwards from 160 to 220 km height. Even though similar oscillations were shown in surface temperature and relative humidity data, no clear evidence for tropospheric influence could be derived from this study, due to the modest amplitude of these waves and the manifold rationale inside the boundary layer.