Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Kyoto University have shown that the Earth’s atmosphere vibrates similarly to a ringing bell.
The study confirms similar theories developed by other scientists which posited the same ringing.
However, this doesn’t mean you should wonder why we aren’t currently hearing a constant ringing sound from above. The “ringing” isn’t a sound we can hear but rather a form of “large-scale waves of atmospheric pressure spanning the globe and traveling around the equator, some moving east-to-west and others west-to-east. Each of these waves is a resonant vibration of the global atmosphere, analogous to one of the resonant pitches of a bell,” according to the researchers.
This phenomenon was first studied with the 19th century French physicist and mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace. His work has been built on since then.
In this latest study, Takatoshi Sakazaki, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Science, and Kevin Hamilton, an emeritus professor in UH Mānoa’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the International Pacific Research Center, present a detailed analysis of observed atmospheric pressure over the globe every hour for 38 years. The results clearly revealed the presence of dozens of the predicted wave modes.
The wave modes focused on were those with periods between 2 hours and 33 hours which travel horizontally through the atmosphere, moving around the globe at great speeds.
“For these rapidly moving wave modes, our observed frequencies and global patterns match those theoretically predicted very well,” said Sakazaki, lead author of the study. “It is exciting to see the vision of Laplace and other pioneering physicists so completely validated after two centuries.”
“Our identification of so many modes in real data shows that the atmosphere is indeed ringing like a bell,” said Hamilton, co-author of the study. “This finally resolves a longstanding and classic issue in atmospheric science, but it also opens a new avenue of research to understand both the processes that excite the waves and the processes that act to damp the waves.”