Weather maps, with their high and low pressure systems, tell us about where the wind is going to blow and help us plan our weekend. In the southern hemisphere the wind blows clockwise around a low pressure system and anticlockwise around a high. To predict our future climate, however, we need to include other influences on atmospheric circulation, such as the waves that are ever present in the air above us.
Gravity waves are made when our atmosphere is disturbed by fronts, storms or air blowing over hills and mountains. As gravity tries to restore the atmosphere to its undisturbed state, it forces the common ‘overshoot’ that generates a wave. Gravity waves vary enormously in the rate at which the air oscillates (frequency) and their horizontal and vertical repetition scale (wavelength). They have a significant influence on the workings of our weather and climate because they can force air movements in the atmosphere. This influence provides the motivation behind our research to improve the way gravity waves are represented in climate models.
Read more in the Australian Antarctic Magazine.