Formation of an additional density peak in the bottom side of the sodium layer associated with the passage of multiple mesospheric frontal systems.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 4)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 370 words

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Abstract :

We present a detailed investigation of the formation of an additional sodium density peak at altitudes of 79-85 km below the main peak of the sodium layer based on sodium lidar and airglow imager measurements made at Ramfjordmoen near Tromsø, Norway, on the night of 19 December 2014. The airglow imager observations of OH emissions revealed four passing frontal systems that resembled mesospheric bores, which typically occur in ducting regions of the upper mesosphere. For about 1.5 h, the lower-altitude sodium peak had densities similar to that of the main peak of the layer around 90 km. The lower-altitude sodium peak weakened and disappeared soon after the fourth front had passed. The fourth front had weakened in intensity by the time it approached the region of lidar beams and disappeared soon afterwards. The column-integrated sodium densities increased gradually during the formation of the lower-altitude sodium peak. Temperatures measured with the lidar indicate that there was a strong thermal duct structure between 87 and 93 km. Furthermore, the temperature was enhanced below 85 km. Horizontal wind magnitudes estimated from the lidar showed strong wind shears above 93 km. We conclude that the combination of an enhanced stability region due to the temperature profile and intense wind shears have provided ideal conditions for evolution of multiple mesospheric bores revealed as frontal systems in the OH images. The downward motion associated with the fronts appeared to have brought air rich in H and O from higher altitudes into the region below 85 km, wherein the temperature was also higher. Both factors would have liberated sodium atoms from the reservoir species and suppressed the reconversion of atomic sodium into reservoir species so that the lower-altitude sodium peak could form and the column abundance could increase. The presented observations also reveal the importance of mesospheric frontal systems in bringing about significant variation of minor species over shorter temporal intervals.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A652217451