Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
Research article
12 Jan 2015
Research article |  | 12 Jan 2015

Global investigation of the Mg atom and ion layers using SCIAMACHY/Envisat observations between 70 and 150 km altitude and WACCM-Mg model results

M. P. Langowski, C. von Savigny, J. P. Burrows, W. Feng, J. M. C. Plane, D. R. Marsh, D. Janches, M. Sinnhuber, A. C. Aikin, and P. Liebing

Abstract. Mg and Mg+ concentration fields in the upper mesosphere/lower thermosphere (UMLT) region are retrieved from SCIAMACHY/Envisat limb measurements of Mg and Mg+ dayglow emissions using a 2-D tomographic retrieval approach. The time series of monthly mean Mg and Mg+ number density and vertical column density in different latitudinal regions are presented. Data from the limb mesosphere–thermosphere mode of SCIAMACHY/Envisat are used, which cover the 50 to 150 km altitude region with a vertical sampling of ≈3.3 km and latitudes up to 82°. The high latitudes are not observed in the winter months, because there is no dayglow emission during polar night. The measurements were performed every 14 days from mid-2008 until April 2012. Mg profiles show a peak at around 90 km altitude with a density between 750 cm−3 and 1500 cm−3. Mg does not show strong seasonal variation at latitudes below 40°. For higher latitudes the density is lower and only in the Northern Hemisphere a seasonal cycle with a summer minimum is observed. The Mg+ peak occurs 5–15 km above the neutral Mg peak altitude. These ions have a significant seasonal cycle with a summer maximum in both hemispheres at mid and high latitudes. The strongest seasonal variations of Mg+ are observed at latitudes between 20 and 40° and the density at the peak altitude ranges from 500 cm−3 to 4000 cm−3. The peak altitude of the ions shows a latitudinal dependence with a maximum at mid latitudes that is up to 10 km higher than the peak altitude at the equator.

The SCIAMACHY measurements are compared to other measurements and WACCM model results. The WACCM results show a significant seasonal variability for Mg with a summer minimum, which is more clearly pronounced than for SCIAMACHY, and globally a higher peak density than the SCIAMACHY results. Although the peak density of both is not in agreement, the vertical column density agrees well, because SCIAMACHY and WACCM profiles have different widths. The agreement between SCIAMACHY and WACCM results is much better for Mg+ with both showing the same seasonality and similar peak density. However, there are also minor differences, e.g. WACCM showing a nearly constant altitude of the Mg+ layer's peak density for all latitudes and seasons.

Short summary
Global concentration fields of Mg and Mg+ in the Earth's upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere (70-150km) are presented. These are retrieved from SCIAMACHY/Envisat satellite grating spectrometer measurements in limb viewing geometry between 2008 and 2012. These were compared with WACCM-Mg model results and a large fraction of the available measurement results for these species, and an interpretation of the results is done. The variation of these species during NLC presence is discussed.
Final-revised paper