Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
23 Mar 2010
 | 23 Mar 2010

First climatology of polar mesospheric clouds from GOMOS/ENVISAT stellar occultation instrument

K. Pérot, A. Hauchecorne, F. Montmessin, J.-L. Bertaux, L. Blanot, F. Dalaudier, D. Fussen, and E. Kyrölä

Abstract. GOMOS (Global Ozone Monitoring by Occultation of Stars), on board the European platform ENVISAT launched in 2002, is a stellar occultation instrument combining four spectrometers and two fast photometers which measure light at 1 kHz sampling rate in the two visible channels 470–520 nm and 650–700 nm. On the day side, GOMOS does not measure only the light from the star, but also the solar light scattered by the atmospheric molecules. In the summer polar days, Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC) are clearly detected using the photometers signals, as the solar light scattered by the cloud particles in the instrument field of view. The sun-synchronous orbit of ENVISAT allows observing PMC in both hemispheres and the stellar occultation technique ensures a very good geometrical registration. Four years of data, from 2002 to 2006, are analyzed up to now. GOMOS data set consists of approximately 10 000 cloud observations all over the eight PMC seasons studied. The first climatology obtained by the analysis of this data set is presented, focusing on the seasonal and latitudinal coverage, represented by global maps. GOMOS photometers allow a very sensitive PMC detection, showing a frequency of occurrence of 100% in polar regions during the middle of the PMC season. According to this work mesospheric clouds seem to be more frequent in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere. The PMC altitude distribution was also calculated. The obtained median values are 82.7 km in the North and 83.2 km in the South.

Final-revised paper