Diurnal and annual variations of meteor rates at the arctic circle
- Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, 18225 Kühlungsborn, Germany
Abstract. Meteors are an important source for (a) the metal atoms of the upper atmosphere metal layers and (b) for condensation nuclei, the existence of which are a prerequisite for the formation of noctilucent cloud particles in the polar mesopause region. For a better understanding of these phenomena, it would be helpful to know accurately the annual and diurnal variations of meteor rates. So far, these rates have been little studied at polar latitudes. Therefore we have used the 33 MHz meteor radar of the ALOMAR observatory at 69° N to measure the meteor rates at this location for two full annual cycles. This site, being within 3° of the Arctic circle, offers in addition an interesting capability: The axis of its antenna field points (almost) towards the North ecliptic pole once each day of the year. In this particular viewing direction, the radar monitors the meteoroid influx from (almost) the entire ecliptic Northern hemisphere.
We report on the observed diurnal variations (averaged over one month) of meteor rates and their significant alterations throughout the year. The ratio of maximum over minimum meteor rates throughout one diurnal cycle is in January and February about 5, from April through December 2.3±0.3. If compared with similar measurements at mid-latitudes, our expectation, that the amplitude of the diurnal variation is to decrease towards the North pole, is not really borne out.
Observations with the antenna axis pointing towards the North ecliptic pole showed that the rate of deposition of meteoric dust is substantially larger during the Arctic NLC season than the annual mean deposition rate. The daylight meteor showers of the Arietids, Zeta Perseids, and Beta Taurids supposedly contribute considerably to the June maximum of meteor rates. We note, though, that with the radar antenna pointing as described above, all three meteor radiants are close to the local horizon but all three radiants were detected.