Articles | Volume 4, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 4, 627–638, 2004

Special issue: Meteors in the atmosphere (Arecibo Meteor Radar Workshop...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 4, 627–638, 2004

  16 Apr 2004

16 Apr 2004

A time-resolved model of the mesospheric Na layer: constraints on the meteor input function

J. M. C. Plane J. M. C. Plane
  • School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Abstract. A time-resolved model of the Na layer in the mesosphere/lower thermosphere region is described, where the continuity equations for the major sodium species Na, Na+ and NaHCO3 are solved explicity, and the other short-lived species are treated in steady-state. It is shown that the diurnal variation of the Na layer can only be modelled satisfactorily if sodium species are permanently removed below about 85 km, both through the dimerization of NaHCO3 and the uptake of sodium species on meteoric smoke particles that are assumed to have formed from the recondensation of vaporized meteoroids. When the sensitivity of the Na layer to the meteoroid input function is considered, an inconsistent picture emerges. The ratio of the column abundance of Na+ to Na is shown to increase strongly with the average meteoroid velocity, because the Na is injected at higher altitudes. Comparison with a limited set of Na+ measurements indicates that the average meteoroid velocity is probably less than about 25 km s-1, in agreement with velocity estimates from conventional meteor radars, and considerably slower than recent observations made by wide aperture incoherent scatter radars. The Na column abundance is shown to be very sensitive to the meteoroid mass input rate, and to the rate of vertical transport by eddy diffusion. Although the magnitude of the eddy diffusion coefficient in the 80–90 km region is uncertain, there is a consensus between recent models using parameterisations of gravity wave momentum deposition that the average value is less than 3×105 cm2 s-1. This requires that the global meteoric mass input rate is less than about 20 td-1, which is closest to estimates from incoherent scatter radar observations. Finally, the diurnal variation in the meteoroid input rate only slight perturbs the Na layer, because the residence time of Na in the layer is several days, and diurnal effects are effectively averaged out.

Final-revised paper