Articles | Volume 18, issue 4
30 Apr 2000
30 Apr 2000

A new technique for evaluating mesospheric momentum balance utilizing radars and satellite data

D. J. Frame, B. N. Lawrence, G. J. Fraser, R. A. Vincent, and A. Dudhia

Abstract. A new method for evaluating momentum balance in the mesosphere using radar and satellite data is presented. This method is applied to radar wind data from two medium frequency installations (near Adelaide, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand) and satellite temperature data from the Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder (ISAMS). Because of limitations in data availability and vertical extent, the technique can only be applied to evaluate the momentum balance at 80 km above the radar sites for May 1992. The technique allows the calculation of the residual terms in the momentum balance which are usually attributed to the effects of breaking gravity waves. Although the results are inconclusive above Adelaide, this method produces values of zonal and meridional residual accelerations above Christchurch which are consistent with expectation. In both locations it is apparent that geostrophic balance is a poor approximation of reality. (This result is not dependent on a mismatch between the radar and satellite derived winds, but rather is inherent in the satellite data alone.) Despite significant caveats about data quality the technique appears robust and could be of use with data from future instruments.

Key words: Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (middle atmosphere dynamics; waves and tides; instruments and techniques)