Monday, August 25, 2008

Atmospheric "Gravity" waves

Intelectually we know that the atmosphere is a fluid. In wind we can feel it acting in this nature, but seeing large structures moving in a fluidic nature, are not often possible. An Atmospheric "Gravity" wave is a manifestation of ripples in the air mass as opposed to the air column which is more what thunder storms, tornadoes and hurricanes do. Under the right conditions, these waves can be observed. From the Berkley Edu site:
  • Gravity waves are the oscillations of air parcels by the lifting force of bouyancy and the restoring force of gravity. These waves propagate vertically as well as horizontally, and actively transport energy and momentum from the troposphere to the middle and upper atmosphere. Gravity waves are caused by a variety of sources, including the passage of wind across terrestrial landforms, interaction at the velocity shear of the polar jet stream and radiation incident from space. They are found to affect atmospheric tides in the middle atmosphere and terrestrial weather in the lower atmosphere.
And your asking, how is this science fiction related. As I have been saying all along, good science fiction is based in good science and the observation of how the natural order of things work. Seeing this video, you can almost imaging extrapolating it into an alien environment with a heavy atmosphere, plus a whole order of other strangeness.

Click on the play button to see an effect that I suspect that you have never observed. Its quite facinating.

Thanks to Kim Komando's video of the day

<- Berkley site on Gravity waves ->

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