First experimental verification of summertime mesospheric momentum balance based on radar wind measurements at 69° N
- 1Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Rostock University, Kühlungsborn, Germany
- 2Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
- 3Meteorologisches Institut München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
Abstract. Gravity waves (GWs) greatly influence the background state of the middle atmosphere by imposing their momentum on the mean flow upon breaking and by thus driving, e.g., the upper mesospheric summer zonal wind reversal. In this situation momentum is conserved by a balance between the vertical divergence of GW momentum flux (the so-called GW drag) and the Coriolis acceleration of the mean meridional wind. In this study, we present first quantitative mean annual cycles of these two balancing quantities from the medium frequency Doppler radar at the polar site Saura (SMF radar, 69° N, 16° E). Three-year means for 2009 through 2011 clearly show that the observed zonal momentum balance between 70 and 100 km with contributions from GWs only is fulfilled during summer when GW activity is strongest and more stable than in winter. During winter, the balance between GW drag and Coriolis acceleration of the mean meridional wind is not existent, which is likely due to the additional contribution from planetary waves, which are not considered by the present investigation. The differences in the momentum balance between summer and winter conditions are additionally clarified by 3-month mean vertical profiles for summer 2010 and winter 2010/2011.