Evidence of the Lower Thermospheric Winter to- Summer Circulation From SABER CO2

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Numerical studies have shown that there is a lower thermospheric winter-to-summer circulation that is driven by wave dissipation and that it plays a significant role in trace gas distributions in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere, and in the composition of the thermosphere. However, the characteristics of this circulation are poorly known. Direct observations of it are difficult, but it leaves clear signatures in tracer distributions.

SD-WACCM mean fields image
SD-WACCM mean fields (2003–2014) for January. (a) Residual meridional circulations, (b) CO2, and (c) vertical gradient of CO2. The vertical gradient was calculated as ΔCO2/(-Δlog10P).

The Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) onboard the Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics satellite has obtained CO2 concentration from 2002 to present. This data set, combined with simulations by the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, provides an unprecedented opportunity to infer the morphology of this circulation in both the summer and winter hemispheres. Our study show that there exists a maximum vertical gradient of CO2 at summer high latitudes, driven by the convergence of the upwelling of the mesospheric circulation and the downwelling of the lower thermospheric circulation; in the winter hemisphere, the maximum vertical gradient of CO2 is located at a higher altitude, driven by the convergence of the upwelling of the lower thermospheric circulation and the downwelling of the solar-driven thermospheric circulation; the bottom of the lower thermospheric circulation is located between ~ 95 km and 100 km, and it has a vertical extent of ~10 km. Analysis of the SABER CO2 and temperature at summer high latitudes showed that the bottom of this circulation is consistently higher than the mesopause height by ~10 km.

Publication Name: GRL
First HAO Author's Name: Liying Qian