Life is often full of amazing little treats that, to the untrained eye, would go entirely unseen. Phenomena are commonly found in all walks of life, and this can give us some of the most truly life-changing sights and scenes. However, one phenomenon that has so far been invisible to humans is known as atmospheric gravity waves.
These are ripples that you would not be able to see in the sky, but definitely have taken place. Such waves can take place in various locations but are often most commonly found during thunderstorms.
Indeed, it’s apparently not too dissimilar to what happens when you throw a rock across the water – you see that little ripple, that change. That is also a gravity wave; what is happening in the sky is similar.
Our Atmosphere is Liquid
Any disturbance to fluid can make these waves take place. Given that our atmosphere is a liquid, too, though, it can contribute to the development of similar wave effects later on in time. It’s a big reason why this kind of atmospheric wave has long been sought after by scientists looking to see it happen in real-time.
The person behind making this happen was Adam Morgan, a meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Speaking to ABC News, Morgan said: “Essentially gravity waves are disturbances in any sort of fluid, so we see them often in water, but the atmosphere is a fluid as well, so any sort of disturbance in there can generate waves.”
Asked why this has taken place to begin with, Morgan said: “There was a big thunderstorm over the northwest of Western Australia and the disturbance, in this case, was the cold air falling out of the thunderstorm and into the warmer air near the surface,” Morgan said.
“The difference in density there causes the disturbance and then the gravity wave can travel out as the cold air spreads out,”
Indeed, he also noted that such waves can travel exceptionally large distances before they begin to dissipate and return to normal. Speaking further about the experience, Morgan said: “The disturbance will exist until everything rebalances itself, that’s why they can travel a long way,
“If you’ve ever been to the swimming pool and someone jumps in and does a dive bomb at one end of the pool, you might get the wave right at the other end of the pool after a bit of time.”
The main reason why we cannot normally see these, though, is due to the fact that they must produce some kind of cloud. Otherwise, there is not enough moisture in the air to try and give us an insight into what is going on in the background.
Still, we can now finally say that we have visual proof of an atmospheric gravity wave taking place. For many in the science community, this will be seen as a hugely impressive level of progress.