Direct measurements of vertical heat flux and Na flux in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere by lidar at Boulder (40°N, 105°W), Colorado
Abstract:The vertical transport of heat and constituent by gravity waves and tides plays a fundamental role in establishing the thermal and constituent structures of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT), but has not been thoroughly investigated by observations. In particular, direct measurements of vertical heat flux and metal constituent flux caused by dissipating waves are extremely rare, which demand precise measurements with high spatial and temporal resolutions over a long period. Such requirements are necessary to overcome various uncertainties to reveal the small quantities of the heat and constituent fluxes induced by dissipating waves. So far such direct observations have only been reported for vertical heat and Na fluxes using a Na Doppler lidar at Starfire Optical Range (SOR) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Furthermore, estimate of eddy heat and constituent fluxes from the turbulent mixing generated by breaking waves is even more challenging due to the even smaller temporal and spatial scales of the eddy. Consequently, the associated coefficients of thermal (kH) and constituent (kzz) diffusion have not been well characterized and remain as large uncertainties in models. We attempt to address these issues with direct measurements by a Na Doppler lidar with exceptional high-resolution measurement capabilities.
Since summer 2010, we have been operating a Na Doppler lidar at Boulder, Colorado. The efficiency of the lidar has been greatly improved in summer of 2011 and achieved generally over 1000 counts of Na signal per lidar pulse in winter. In 2013, we made extensive Na lidar observations in 98 nights. These data covering each month of a full year will be used to characterize the seasonal variations of heat and Na fluxes and to be compared with the pioneering observations at SOR. In November 2013, we further upgraded the lidar with two new frequency shifters and a new data acquisition scheme, which are optimized for estimating eddy fluxes and reducing the measurement bias. Since then, we have been making observations in order to directly measure the eddy heat and Na fluxes for the first time. Such lidar observations at Boulder will certainly help advance the understanding on the vertical transport in the MLT region and provide crucial observational references to the models.