Articles | Volume 20, issue 11
30 Nov 2002
 | 30 Nov 2002

First observation of one noctilucent cloud by a twin lidar in two different directions

G. Baumgarten, F.-J. Lübken, and K. H. Fricke

Abstract. In the early morning hours of 14 July 1999, a noctilucent cloud (NLC) was observed simultaneously by the two branches of a twin lidar system located at the ALOMAR observatory in northern Norway (69° N). The telescopes of the two lidars were pointing vertical (L^) and off the zenith by 30° (L30°). The two lidars detected an enhancement in the altitude profile of backscattered light (relative to the molecular background) for more than 5 h, starting approximately at 01:00 UT. These measurements constitute the detection of one NLC by two lidars under different directions and allow for a detailed study of the morphology of the NLC layer. A cross-correlation analysis of the NLC signals demonstrates that the main structures seen by both lidars are practically identical. This implies that a temporal evolution of the microphysics within the NLC during its drift from one lidar beam to the other is negligible. From the time delay of the NLC structures, a drift velocity of 55–65 m/s is derived which agrees nicely with radar wind measurements. During the observation period, the mean NLC altitude decreases by ~0.5 km/h (=14 cm/s) at both observation volumes. Further-more, the NLC is consistently observed approximately 500 m lower in altitude at L30° compared to L^. Supplementing these data by observations from rocket-borne and ground-based instruments, we show that the general downward progression of the NLC layer through the night, as seen by both lidars, is caused by a combination of particle sedimentation by 4–5 cm/s and a downward directed vertical wind by 9–10 cm/s, whereas a tilt of the layer in drift direction can be excluded.

Key words. Atmospheric composition and structure (cloud physics and chemistry; aerosols and particles) Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (middle atmosphere dynamics)