Observational Evidence for Temporary Planetary-Wave Forcing of the MLT during Fall Equinox

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Nora Henriette Stray1, Rosmarie de Wit1, Patrick J Espy1,2 and Robert E Hibbins1,2, (1)Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, (2)Birkeland Centre for Space Science, Bergen, Norway
We present direct observations of zonal wave number one and two planetary wave activity in the mesopause region derived from a longitudinal chain of high latitude northern hemisphere (51-66 N) SuperDARN radars. Over a nine year period (2000-2008) the planetary wave activity observed shows a consistent increase around the fall equinox.

This is shown to be coincident with a minimum in the magnitude of the stratospheric winds, and consequently a minimum in the stratospheric gravity wave filtering and the subsequent momentum deposition in the mesopause region. Despite this, the observed meridional winds are shown to be perturbed poleward and mesopause temperatures rise temporarily, suggesting that westward momentum deposition from planetary waves temporarily becomes the dominant forcing on the mesopause region each fall equinox.