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Study on 2002 sudden stratospheric warming, mesopher-lower thermospheric wind structure and dynamics and middle atmospheric structure, based on superDARN HF RADAR, LIDAR, Riometer, satellites and models.

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In this thesis, the dynamics and coupling in the middle atmosphere over the Southern Hemisphere are investigated using SuperDARN high frequency (HF) radar wind data, satellites, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) imaging riometer and models. In particular, the study focuses on the unprecedented 2002 major stratospheric warming and its role in coupling the middle atmosphere. The dynamics of the middle atmosphere is investigated in terms of mean wind, temperature, gravity waves and planetary wave activity. Studying the middle atmospheric thermal structure over Southern Africa is an important activity to improve the understanding of atmospheric dynamics of this region. Observation of a middle atmosphere thermal structure over Durban (29.9 S, 31.0 E, South Africa) using LIDAR data collected from April 1999 to July 2004 (277 nights), including closest overpasses of the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) and Halogen Occultation Experiments (HALOE) satellites, and the COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere (CIRA-86) are presented in this thesis. The observations from the LIDAR instrument, satellites and CIRA-86 exhibit the presence of annual oscillation in the stratosphere, whereas in the mesosphere the semi-annual oscillation seems to dominate the annual oscillation at some levels. The stratopause is observed in the height range of 40-55 km for all the instruments, with the stratopause temperatures being 260- 270 K for the LIDAR, 250-260 K for the SABER, and 250-270 K for the HALOE. Data from the LIDAR, satellites and CIRA-86 model indicate almost the same thermal structure of the middle atmosphere over Durban. This indicates a good agreement between LIDAR, satellites and the CIRA-86 model. Mean wind and planetary waves are investigated on a climatological scale in this study. Mean wind observations from the SANAE SuperDARN HF radar are compared with observations from Halley SuperDARN HF radar. There is a good agreement between the observations from the two stations both in the zonal and meridional wind components. Zonal wind is observed to be consistently larger than the meridional wind. The zonal wind is also consistently more eastward at both stations with maxima occurring during the solstice months. High latitude summer zonal mean ow at 94 km is observed to be weaker and more variable compared to the eastward winter mean circulation owing to tropospherically forced planetary waves propagating through the middle atmosphere. The zonal mean wind shows greater seasonal variability than does the meridional mean wind. This seasonal behaviour is reasonably well understood in terms of the upward propagating planetary waves and gravity waves interacting with the mean ow. The Coriolis force also plays an important role in the case of meridional wind component. The climatology of planetary waves both in the zonal and meridional wind components indicates an ampli cation of planetary waves of shorter wavenumbers (s = 3) in the winter months. During summer, long period oscillations (e.g. >10 days) which are dominant in winter disappear, and oscillations with shorter period (e.g. <10 days) become dominant. vi There is a strong planetary wave coupling between the stratosphere and mesosphere-lower thermospheric (MLT) during the year 2002 winter season, whilst the coupling is observed to be relatively weak during the other years. The strong planetary wave coupling in 2002 is understandable because during this year the middle atmosphere winter months were characterised by strong planetary wave activity which led to the rst ever detection of the SSW in the Southern Hemisphere. In the year 2002 winter period the mean circulation in the stratosphere is characterized by a series of planetary wave events that weakened the polar vortex and triggered the sudden stratospheric warming in late September. In particular, in the stratosphere there is a presence of a quasi 10-day eastward propagating planetary wave of wavenumber s=1, while in the MLT a quasi 14-day eastward propagating planetary wave of wavenumber s=1 is observed to be dominant. The Eliassen Palm ux (E-P) ux shows that strong planetary wave activity observed in the middle atmosphere originates from the troposphere. Zonal winds at the MLT show reversal approximately 7 days before the reversal at stratosphere, indicating a downwards propagation of circulation disturbance in the middle atmosphere. Eastward zonal winds dominate the winter MLT, but during the 2002 winter there are many periods of westward winds observed compared to the other years. The SABER vertical temperature pro les indicate cooling of the MLT region during the SSW occurrence. Gravity wave horizontal phase velocities and horizontal wavelengths as seen by the SANAE imaging riometer are observed to reduce dramatically over SANAE during the occurrence of the stratospheric warming. The disturbance of the middle atmosphere during the Southern Hemisphere stratospheric warming in year 2002 winter preconditioned the region for gravity waves to propagate upward to the MLT. The potential energy of these gravity waves is observed to increase with height up until they reach the lower thermosphere. At the MLT they lose their energy, thus depositing their momentum, leading to the MLT cooling and mean wind reversal. Keywords: SSW, Planetary waves, Gravity waves, Stratosphere, MLT, SuperDARN radar, Mean wind, Temperature, Middle atmosphere, SANAE.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2012.


Radar transmitters., Rossby waves., Stratospheric circulation., Gravitational waves., Theses--Physics.