Contributions of the Higher Vibrational Levels of Nitric Oxide to the Radiative Cooling of the Thermosphere

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Karthik Venkataramani1, Justin D Yonker2 and Scott Martin Bailey1, (1)Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, United States, (2)National Center for Atmospheric Research, High Altitude Observatory, Boulder, CO, United States
The 5.3μm emission from the vibrational levels of nitric oxide (NO) and the 15μm emission from CO2 are known to be the dominant sources of cooling in the thermosphere above 100 km. The 5.3μm emission is primarily produced by the radiative de-excitation of NO from its first vibrational level, which in turn is mainly populated by the collisions of NO with atomic oxygen. However, the reaction of atomic nitrogen (N(4S) and N(2D)) with Oyields vibrationally excited NO with v>1, resulting in a radiative cascade which produces more than one 5.3μm photon per vibrationally excited NO molecule. This chemiluminescence is approximately 20% in magnitude of the emission produced by thermal collisions.

These additional sources of the 5.3μm emission are introduced into a one dimensional photochemical model and the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIE-GCM) to assess their variability with latitude and solar activity, and to also understand their effect on the thermospheric energy budget. The results from the models are compared with data from the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) experiment on-board the Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite, which has been making measurements of the infrared radiative response of the mesosphere and thermosphere to solar inputs since 2002.