The Effect of Polar Vortex Disturbances on Mesopause Gravity Wave Drag in Relation to Mesopause Pole-to-Pole Coupling

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Rosmarie de Wit1, Robert E Hibbins1,2 and Patrick J Espy1,2, (1)Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, (2)Birkeland Centre for Space Science, Bergen, Norway
Gravity waves (GWs) play an important role in the dynamics of the mesosphere/lower thermosphere (MLT) region, linking the lower to the upper atmosphere. GW filtering by the background zonal wind is furthermore believed to be the fundamental mechanism coupling the winter stratosphere to the summer polar mesopause, in which increased planetary wave (PW) activity in the former is related to enhanced temperatures in the latter through a chain of global MLT temperature anomalies. During major Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSWs) the interaction between PWs and the background flow leads to increased polar stratospheric temperatures and a reversal of the climatological winds from eastward to westward. As a result, large changes in GW filtering conditions occur, making SSWs an excellent tool to empirically test the inter-hemispheric coupling mechanism.

In this study, mesopause GW forcing derived from meteor radar observations over Trondheim, Norway (63°N, 10°E) during the January 2013 major SSW is discussed in light of the polar vortex strength and selective filtering conditions over the same location to show the coupling between the polar winter stratosphere and MLT. Global temperature observations obtained with the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) are subsequently used to study the temperature signature of the SSW in the MLT region over the winter pole in relation to the observed GW forcing. Furthermore, the temperature effect of the SSW throughout the middle atmosphere is tracked, away from the winter pole toward the summer pole, and compared to the temperature structure expected from the inter-hemispheric coupling mechanism.