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Observations of water vapour in the middle atmosphere

by Lossow, Stefan

Abstract (Summary)
Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas and plays a fundamental role in the climate system and for the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere. This thesis presents observations of water vapour in the middle atmosphere with a particular focus on the mesosphere. The majority of these observations presented in this thesis have been performed by the Swedish satellite Odin, providing global observations since 2001. Further observations come from the Hygrosonde-2 campaign in December 2001 based on balloon and rocket-borne measurements. A general overview of Odin's water vapour measurements in the middle atmosphere is given. The optimisation of the mesospheric water vapour retrieval is presented in detail.The analysis of the observations has focused mainly on different dynamical aspects utilising the characteristic of water vapour as a dynamical tracer in the middle atmosphere. One application is the mesospheric part of the semi-annual oscillation (SAO). The observations reveal that this oscillation is the dominant pattern of variability between 30°S and 10°N in the mesosphere up to an altitude of 80 km. Above 90 km the SAO is dominating at all latitudes in the tropics and subtropics. It is shown that the SAO exhibits a distinct phase change between 75 km and 80 km in the tropical region.This thesis also presents the first satellite observations of water vapour in the altitude range between 90 km and 110 km, extending the observational database up into the lower thermosphere. In the polar regions water vapour exhibits the annual maximum during winter time above 95 km, mainly caused by upwelling during this season. This behaviour is different from that observed in the subjacent part of the mesosphere where the annual maximum occurs during summer time.The Hygrosonde-2 campaign provided a high resolution measurement of water vapour in the vicinity of the polar vortex edge. This edge prevents horizontal transport causing different water vapour characteristics inside and outside the polar vortex. The observations show that this separating behaviour extends high up into the mesosphere. Small scale transitions in the Hygrosonde-2 profile between conditions inside and outside the vortex coincided with wind shears caused by gravity waves.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Earth sciences; Atmosphere and hydrosphere sciences; Meteorology; water vapour; mesosphere; stratosphere; dynamics; Odin satellite; limb sounding; microwave; tropics; polar winter; meteorologi; Meteorology

ISBN:978–91–7155–721–6

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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