The wind velocity and temperature profiles observed in the middle atmosphere (altitude: 10–100 km) show perturbations resulting from superposition of various atmospheric waves, including atmospheric gravity waves. Atmospheric gravity waves are known to play an important role in determining the general circulation in the middle atmosphere by dynamical stresses caused by gravity wave breaking. In this paper, we summarize the characteristics of atmospheric gravity waves observed using the middle and upper atmosphere (MU) radar in Japan, as well as novel satellite data obtained from global positioning system radio occultation (GPS RO) measurements. In particular, we focus on the behavior of gravity waves in the mesosphere (50–90 km), where considerable gravity wave attenuation occurs. We also report on the global distribution of gravity wave activity in the stratosphere (10–50 km), highlighting various excitation mechanisms such as orographic effects, convection in the tropics, meteorological disturbances, the subtropical jet and the polar night jet.
2014 The Japan Academy