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Investigation of Polar Mesosphere Summer Echoes in Northern Scandinavia

by Barabash, Victoria

Abstract (Summary)
This PhD thesis deals with phenomena which are closely related to the unique thermal structure of the polar summer mesosphere, namely Polar Mesosphere Summer Echoes (PMSE). PMSE are strong radar echoes commonly observed by VHF MST radars from thin layers in the 80-90 km altitude interval at high latitudes during summer. They follow a seasonal pattern of abrupt appearance in late May and a gradual disappearance in mid-August. This period corresponds roughly to the time between the completion of the summer time cooling of the polar mesopause to the time of reversal of the mesospheric circulation to autumn condition. In this connection, PMSE are associated with the extremely low temperatures, i.e. below 140 K, which are unique to the polar summer mesopause. Traditional theories of radar (partial) reflection and scattering have been unable to explain the PMSE and the exact mechanism for their occurrence remains unclear despite the steadily increasing interest in them over the past 20 years. Currently accepted theories regarding the mechanism giving rise to PMSE agree that one of the conditions needed for enhanced radar echoes is the presence of low-mobility charge carries such as large cluster ions and ice aerosols which capture the ambient electrons. It has been established that the PMSE are in some way associated with noctilucent clouds (NLC), layers of ice crystals, which constitute the highest observed clouds in the earth’s atmosphere. PMSE occurrence and dynamics are also found to be closely connected with the planetary and gravity waves.Observations of PMSE presented in this thesis have been carried out by the Esrange MST radar (ESRAD) located at Esrange (67°56’N, 21°04’E) just outside Kiruna in northernmost Sweden. The radar operates at 52 MHz with 72 kW peak power and a maximum duty cycle of 5%. The antenna consists of 12x12 array of 5-element Yagis with a 0.7l spacing. During the PMSE measurements the radar used a 16-bit complementary code having a baud length of 1mS. This corresponds to height resolution of 150 m. The sampling frequency was set at 1450 Hz. The covered height range was 80-90 km. The presence of PMSE was determined on the basis of the radar SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). The PMSE measurements have been made during May-August each year since 1997.PMSE seasonal and diurnal occurrence rates as well as dynamics have been studied in connection with tidal winds, planetary waves, temperature and water vapor content in the mesosphere (Papers I, IV and VI). Simultaneous and common-volume observations of PMSE and noctilucent clouds have been performed by radar, lidar and CCD camera (Paper V). Correlation between variations in PMSE and variations in extra ionization added by precipitating energetic electrons or high-energy particles from the Sun has been examined (Papers II and III). Possible influence of transport effects due to the electric field on PMSE appearance has been studied during a solar proton event (Paper III).
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Physics; Physics; Polar Mesosphere Summer Echoes; middle atmospheric dynamics; ionospheric disturbances; solar radiation; aerosol; MST radar; planetary waves; noctilucent clouds; Fysik; Space Physics; rymdfysik

ISBN:91-7305-563-8

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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