Seasonal changes in gravity wave activity measured by lidars at mid-latitudes
Abstract. More than 230 nights of temperature measurements between 1 and 105 km have been performed at the Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Kühlungsborn with a combination of two different lidars, i.e. a Rayleigh-Mie-Raman lidar and a potassium lidar. About 1700 h of measurements have been collected between 2002 and 2006. Apart from some gaps due to the adverse weather conditions the measurements are well distributed throughout the year. Comprehensive information about the activity of medium- and low-frequency gravity waves was extracted from this data set. The dominating vertical wavelengths found are between 10 and 20 km and do not show any seasonal variation. In contrast the temperature fluctuations due to gravity waves experience a clear annual cycle with a maximum in winter. The most significant differences exist around 60 km where the fluctuations in winter are more than two times larger than they are in summer. Only small seasonal differences are observed above 90 km and below 35 km. Generally, the fluctuations grow from about 0.5 K up to 8 K between 20 and 100 km. Damping of waves is observed at nearly all altitudes and in all seasons. The planetary wave activity shows a similar structure in altitude and season as the gravity wave activity which indicates that similar mechanisms influencing different scales. Combining the monthly mean temperatures and the fluctuations we show that the transition between winter and summer season and vice versa seems to start in the mesopause region and to penetrate downward.