This is a CAREER award to investigate observable effects of gravity waves in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) region (∼80-100 km), while supporting and enhancing student research, teaching, and public outreach at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Gravity waves play a crucial role in defining the structure, dynamics, and variability of the MLT region by carrying and ultimately depositing momentum and energy between regions of the atmosphere. They are observed via their perturbations to chemical species and processes, by passive optical measurements of airglow, and active measurements by lidar and radar. Theoretical and modeling studies, inspired by both ground- and space-based observations, continue to expand our scientific understanding of gravity wave sources, processes, directionality and seasonality. The principal research objectives of this project are to model and quantify the evolution and observable effects of gravity waves in the MLT region, to improve the understanding and interpretation of wave processes measured by airglow instruments. Data from established sites will be used for studies of mountain waves over the Andes, and data from a new infrared airglow imager will be used for studies of convectively-generated gravity waves over Daytona Beach, Florida. The principal educational objectives of this project are to mentor and train students for careers as independent scientific researchers, and to inspire interest and enhance understanding of the atmospheric and space sciences among the general public. These teaching and outreach goals will be achieved through (1) undergraduate and graduate student research projects, (2) curriculum development for a new graduate-level course in computational methods for atmospheric dynamics, (3) construction of an educational website for the infrared imager, and (4) incorporation of a new upper-atmospheric outreach program into future ERAU Astronomy Open House events. The project will support and educate undergraduate and graduate student researchers, contribute to development of the new ERAU Engineering Physics Ph.D curriculum, enhance public awareness of atmospheric and space sciences through outreach, construct a website for the infrared airglow imager for general and scientific audiences, develop and refine a comprehensive generalized model for simulation of gravity waves and their observable effects, and disseminate results in refereed publications and conference presentations.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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John Meriwether
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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach
United States
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