On the role of atmospheric gravity waves in generating high-altitude turbulence

Mountain waves are atmospheric gravity waves generated by the interaction between atmospheric flows and orography. When air masses are forced to rise by the orography, the orographic lift triggers an oscillatory motion known as mountain wave. Mountain wave breaking poses a serious hazard to aviation by the generation of high altitude atmospheric turbulence (known as Clear Air Turbulence, or CAT). This type of turbulence can be highly challenging to predict, indeed numerous are the factors that (simultaneously) contribute to the breakdown of these waves into turbulence. The present article focuses on qualitatively describing mountain waves and their phenomenology.

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About the Author

Maria Vittoria Guarino
Maria Vittoria Guarino works as Earth System Modeller at the British Antarctic Survey, in Cambridge (UK)

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