Articles | Volume 18, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 71–79, 2011

Special issue: Large amplitude internal waves in the coastal ocean

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 71–79, 2011

Research article 03 Feb 2011

Research article | 03 Feb 2011

Atmospheric gravity waves in the Red Sea: a new hotspot

J. M. Magalhaes1, I. B. Araújo2, J. C. B. da Silva2,5, R. H. J. Grimshaw3, K. Davis4, and J. Pineda4 J. M. Magalhaes et al.
  • 1Centro de Oceanografia and Departamento de Engenharia Geográfica, Geofísica e Energia (DEGGE), Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
  • 2CIMAR/CIIMAR – Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, Rua dos Bragas 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal
  • 3Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, LE11 3TU, UK
  • 4Biology Department, MS 50, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
  • 5Departamento de Geociências, Ambiente e Ordenamento do Território, Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 687, 4169-007, Porto, Portugal

Abstract. The region of the Middle East around the Red Sea (between 32° E and 44° E longitude and 12° N and 28° N latitude) is a currently undocumented hotspot for atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs). Satellite imagery shows evidence that this region is prone to relatively high occurrence of AGWs compared to other areas in the world, and reveals the spatial characteristics of these waves. The favorable conditions for wave propagation in this region are illustrated with three typical cases of AGWs propagating in the lower troposphere over the sea. Using weakly nonlinear long wave theory and the observed characteristic wavelengths we obtain phase speeds which are consistent with those observed and typical for AGWs, with the Korteweg-de Vries theory performing slightly better than Benjamin-Davis-Acrivos-Ono theory as far as phase speeds are concerned. ERS-SAR and Envisat-ASAR satellite data analysis between 1993 and 2008 reveals signatures consistent with horizontally propagating large-scale internal waves. These signatures cover the entire Red Sea and are more frequently observed between April and September, although they also occur during the rest of the year. The region's (seasonal) propagation conditions for AGWs, based upon average vertical atmospheric stratification profiles suggest that many of the signatures identified in the satellite images are atmospheric internal waves.