Articles | Volume 30, issue 6
Regular paper
11 Jun 2012
Regular paper |  | 11 Jun 2012

Momentum flux determination using the multi-beam Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar

M. J. Nicolls, D. C. Fritts, D. Janches, and C. J. Heinselman

Abstract. In this paper, we develop an estimator for the vertical flux of horizontal momentum with arbitrary beam pointing, applicable to the case of arbitrary but fixed beam pointing with systems such as the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR). This method uses information from all available beams to resolve the variances of the wind field in addition to the vertical flux of both meridional and zonal momentum, targeted for high-frequency wave motions. The estimator utilises the full covariance of the distributed measurements, which provides a significant reduction in errors over the direct extension of previously developed techniques and allows for the calculation of an error covariance matrix of the estimated quantities. We find that for the PFISR experiment, we can construct an unbiased and robust estimator of the momentum flux if sufficient and proper beam orientations are chosen, which can in the future be optimized for the expected frequency distribution of momentum-containing scales. However, there is a potential trade-off between biases and standard errors introduced with the new approach, which must be taken into account when assessing the momentum fluxes. We apply the estimator to PFISR measurements on 23 April 2008 and 21 December 2007, from 60–85 km altitude, and show expected results as compared to mean winds and in relation to the measured vertical velocity variances.