Earth’s atmosphere “rings” like a bell

(ORDO NEWS) — Just as the Moon affects the oceans of our planet, contributing to the tides, it also attracts our atmosphere, creating waves in the sky.

A new study demonstrates how some types of “sky waves” resonate around the Earth, which is very similar to how sound waves resonate inside a bell.

In water, waves arise during the passage of energy. The energy moving through our sky is from such things as thermal pressure and gravitational attraction of celestial bodies.

Previous studies have focused on localized spaces and limited time scales, which made it possible to detect waves with a width of 1000 to 10,000 km with a wave frequency of several hours. But recent data has opened up a much wider global view.

The ERA5 dataset, released by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), provides real-time hourly estimates of many global climate variables for the atmosphere, land and ocean. The data also contain a mass of reanalyzed historical observations of these measurements, up to 1979.

This allowed Takatoshi Sakazaki from Kyoto University and Kevin Hamilton from the University of Hawaii to study atmospheric pressure data for 38 years, including sky waves with frequencies from 2 hours to 2 days and wavelengths over 5,000 km.

On this scale, researchers were able to discover: “randomly excited resonant modes of a global scale”, first predicted in the 19th century by the famous French physicist Pierre-Simon Laplace.

If the waves move through the air at the right height and speed, they can harmonize with the atmosphere, creating a resonance. This allows the waves to form a model stable enough to vibrate throughout the global atmosphere, like sound waves, from a bell.

Indeed, the researchers discovered sets of these resonating celestial waves (resonant modes) that spanned the globe, introducing tonal layers into the bell-shaped sounds of the atmosphere.

“Our identification of so many mods in real data shows that the atmosphere really rings like a bell,” Hamilton said.


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