Statistical analysis of the mesospheric inversion layers over two symmetrical tropical sites: Réunion (20.8° S, 55.5° E) and Mauna Loa (19.5° N, 155.6° W)
Abstract. In this investigation a statistical analysis of the characteristics of mesospheric inversion layers (MILs) over tropical regions is presented. This study involves the analysis of 16 years of lidar observations recorded at Réunion (20.8° S, 55.5° E) and 21 years of lidar observations recorded at Mauna Loa (19.5° N, 155.6° W) together with SABER observations at these two locations. MILs appear in 10 and 9.3 % of the observed temperature profiles recorded by Rayleigh lidar at Réunion and Mauna Loa, respectively. The parameters defining MILs show a semi-annual cycle over the two selected sites with maxima occurring near the equinoxes and minima occurring during the solstices. Over both sites, the maximum mean amplitude is observed in April and October, and this corresponds to a value greater than 35 K. According to lidar observations, the maximum and minimum mean of the base height ranged from 79 to 80.5 km and from 76 to 77.5 km, respectively. The MILs at Réunion appear on average ∼ 1 km thinner and ∼ 1 km lower, with an amplitude of ∼ 2 K higher than Mauna Loa. Generally, the statistical results for these two tropical locations as presented in this investigation are in fairly good agreement with previous studies. When compared to lidar measurements, on average SABER observations show MILs with greater amplitude, thickness and base altitudes of 4 K, 0.75 and 1.1 km, respectively. Taking into account the temperature error by SABER in the mesosphere, it can therefore be concluded that the measurements obtained from lidar and SABER observations are in significant agreement. The frequency spectrum analysis based on the lidar profiles and the 60-day averaged profile from SABER confirms the presence of the semi-annual oscillation where the magnitude maximum is found to coincide with the height range of the temperature inversion zone. This connection between increases in the semi-annual component close to the inversion zone is in agreement with most previously reported studies over tropics based on satellite observations. Results presented in this study confirm through the use of the ground-based Rayleigh lidar at Réunion and Mauna Loa that the semi-annual oscillation contributes to the formation of MILs over the tropical region.