Articles | Volume 17, issue 21
Research article
10 Nov 2017
Research article |  | 10 Nov 2017

Winds and temperatures of the Arctic middle atmosphere during January measured by Doppler lidar

Jens Hildebrand, Gerd Baumgarten, Jens Fiedler, and Franz-Josef Lübken

Abstract. We present an extensive data set of simultaneous temperature and wind measurements in the Arctic middle atmosphere. It consists of more than 300 h of Doppler Rayleigh lidar observations obtained during three January seasons (2012, 2014, and 2015) and covers the altitude range from 30 km up to about 85 km. The data set reveals large year-to-year variations in monthly mean temperatures and winds, which in 2012 are affected by a sudden stratospheric warming. The temporal evolution of winds and temperatures after that warming are studied over a period of 2 weeks, showing an elevated stratopause and the reformation of the polar vortex. The monthly mean temperatures and winds are compared to data extracted from the Integrated Forecast System of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the Horizontal Wind Model (HWM07). Lidar and ECMWF data show good agreement of mean zonal and meridional winds below  ≈ 55 km altitude, but we also find mean temperature, zonal wind, and meridional wind differences of up to 20 K, 20 m s−1, and 5 m s−1, respectively. Differences between lidar observations and HWM07 data are up to 30 m s−1. From the fluctuations of temperatures and winds within single nights we extract the potential and kinetic gravity wave energy density (GWED) per unit mass. It shows that the kinetic GWED is typically 5 to 10 times larger than the potential GWED, the total GWED increases with altitude with a scale height of  ≈ 16 km. Since temporal fluctuations of winds and temperatures are underestimated in ECMWF, the total GWED is underestimated as well by a factor of 3–10 above 50 km altitude. Similarly, we estimate the energy density per unit mass for large-scale waves (LWED) from the fluctuations of nightly mean temperatures and winds. The total LWED is roughly constant with altitude. The ratio of kinetic to potential LWED varies with altitude over 2 orders of magnitude. LWEDs from ECMWF data show results similar to the lidar data. From the comparison of GWED and LWED, it follows that large-scale waves carry about 2 to 5 times more energy than gravity waves.

Short summary
We present altitude profiles of winds and temperatures in the Arctic strato- and mesosphere obtained during three Januaries. The data show large year-to-year variations. We compare the observations to model data. For monthly mean profiles we find good agreement below 55 km altitude but also differences of up to 20 K and 20 m s-1 above. The fluctuations during single nights indicate gravity waves. The kinetic energy of such waves is typically 5 to 10 times larger than their potential energy.
Final-revised paper