Solar activity forcing of the middle atmosphere
Abstract. Studies on the influence of solar activity in 11-year cycle on middle atmospheric thermodynamic parameters, such as temperature, pressure and density, and zonal and meridional wind components over three meteorological rocket launching stations, located in the tropics (Thumba), mid-latitude (Volgograd) and high-latitude (Heiss Island) regions of the northern hemisphere have been carried out. The temperature in all the three regions showed a negative response in the stratosphere and positive association in the mesosphere with the changes in solar activity. The temperature decreases by 2–3% from its mean value in the stratosphere and increases by 4–6% in the mesosphere for an increase in 100 units of solar radio flux. Atmospheric pressure is found to be more sensitive to solar changes. An average solar maximum condition enhances the pressure in the stratosphere by 5% and in the upper mesosphere by 16–18% compared to the respective mean values. Density also showed strong association with the changes in solar activity. Increase in the solar radio flux tends to strengthen winter westerlies in the upper stratosphere over the mid-latitude and summer easterlies in the middle stratosphere over tropics. Larger variability in the zonal wind is noted near stratopause height. Results obtained from the study indicate that there is an external force exerted on the Earth's atmosphere during the period of high solar activity. These results can be incorporated for further studies on the dynamics of the middle atmosphere in association with the changes in solar activity.