Articles | Volume 17, issue 11
30 Nov 1999
30 Nov 1999

Lower thermospheric nitric oxide concentrations derived from WINDII observations of the green nightglow continuum at 553.1 nm

C. H. A. von Savigny, I. C. McDade, G. G. Shepherd, and Y. Rochon

Abstract. Vertical profiles of nitric oxide in the altitude range 90 to 105 km are derived from 553 nm nightglow continuum measurements made with the Wind Imaging Interferometer (WINDII) on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). The profiles are derived under the assumption that the continuum emission is due entirely to the NO+O air afterglow reaction. Vertical profiles of the atomic oxygen density, which are required to determine the nitric oxide concentrations, are derived from coordinated WINDII measurements of the atomic oxygen OI 557.7 nm nightglow emission. Data coverage for local solar times ranging from 20 h to 04 h, and latitudes ranging from 42°S to 42°N, is achieved by zonally averaging and binning data obtained on 18 nights during a two-month period extending from mid-November 1992 until mid-January 1993. The derived nitric oxide concentrations are significantly smaller than those obtained from rocket measurements of the airglow continuum but they do compare well with model expectations and nitric oxide densities measured using the resonance fluorescence technique on the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite. The near-global coverage of the WINDII observations and the similarities to the nitric oxide global morphology established from other satellite measurements strongly suggests that the NO+O reaction is the major source of the continuum near 553 nm and that there is no compelling reason to invoke additional sources of continuum emission in this immediate spectral region.

Key words. Atmospheric composition and structure (airglow and aurora; thermosphere – composition and chemistry; instruments and techniques)