Articles | Volume 24, issue 4
Special issue:
03 Jul 2006
 | 03 Jul 2006

The MaCWAVE program to study gravity wave influences on the polar mesosphere

R. A. Goldberg, D. C. Fritts, F. J. Schmidlin, B. P. Williams, C. L. Croskey, J. D. Mitchell, M. Friedrich, J. M. Russell III, U. Blum, and K. H. Fricke

Abstract. MaCWAVE (Mountain and Convective Waves Ascending VErtically) was a highly coordinated rocket, ground-based, and satellite program designed to address gravity wave forcing of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). The MaCWAVE program was conducted at the Norwegian Andøya Rocket Range (ARR, 69.3° N) in July 2002, and continued at the Swedish Rocket Range (Esrange, 67.9° N) during January 2003. Correlative instrumentation included the ALOMAR MF and MST radars and RMR and Na lidars, Esrange MST and meteor radars and RMR lidar, radiosondes, and TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics) satellite measurements of thermal structures. The data have been used to define both the mean fields and the wave field structures and turbulence generation leading to forcing of the large-scale flow. In summer, launch sequences coupled with ground-based measurements at ARR addressed the forcing of the summer mesopause environment by anticipated convective and shear generated gravity waves. These motions were measured with two 12-h rocket sequences, each involving one Terrier-Orion payload accompanied by a mix of MET rockets, all at ARR in Norway. The MET rockets were used to define the temperature and wind structure of the stratosphere and mesosphere. The Terrier-Orions were designed to measure small-scale plasma fluctuations and turbulence that might be induced by wave breaking in the mesosphere. For the summer series, three European MIDAS (Middle Atmosphere Dynamics and Structure) rockets were also launched from ARR in coordination with the MaCWAVE payloads. These were designed to measure plasma and neutral turbulence within the MLT. The summer program exhibited a number of indications of significant departures of the mean wind and temperature structures from ``normal" polar summer conditions, including an unusually warm mesopause and a slowing of the formation of polar mesospheric summer echoes (PMSE) and noctilucent clouds (NLC). This was suggested to be due to enhanced planetary wave activity in the Southern Hemisphere and a surprising degree of inter-hemispheric coupling. The winter program was designed to study the upward propagation and penetration of mountain waves from northern Scandinavia into the MLT at a site favored for such penetration. As the major response was expected to be downstream (east) of Norway, these motions were measured with similar rocket sequences to those used in the summer campaign, but this time at Esrange. However, a major polar stratospheric warming just prior to the rocket launch window induced small or reversed stratospheric zonal winds, which prevented mountain wave penetration into the mesosphere. Instead, mountain waves encountered critical levels at lower altitudes and the observed wave structure in the mesosphere originated from other sources. For example, a large-amplitude semidiurnal tide was observed in the mesosphere on 28 and 29 January, and appears to have contributed to significant instability and small-scale structures at higher altitudes. The resulting energy deposition was found to be competitive with summertime values. Hence, our MaCWAVE measurements as a whole are the first to characterize influences in the MLT region of planetary wave activity and related stratospheric warmings during both winter and summer.

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