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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 30, 251–258, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-251-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 251–258, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-251-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 23 Jan 2012

Regular paper | 23 Jan 2012

Eddy turbulence, the double mesopause, and the double layer of atomic oxygen

M. N. Vlasov and M. C. Kelley M. N. Vlasov and M. C. Kelley
  • School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Abstract. In this study, we consider the impact of eddy turbulence on temperature and atomic oxygen distribution when the peak of the temperature occurs in the upper mesosphere. A previous paper (Vlasov and Kelley, 2010) considered the simultaneous impact of eddy turbulence on temperature and atomic oxygen density and showed that eddy turbulence provides an effective mechanism to explain the cold summer and warm winter mesopause observed at high latitudes. Also, the prevalent role of eddy turbulence in this case removes the strong contradiction between seasonal variations of the O density distribution and the impact of upward/downward motion corresponding to adiabatic cooling/heating of oxygen atoms. Classically, there is a single minimum in the temperature profile marking the location of the mesopause. But often, a local maximum in the temperature is observed in the height range of 85–100 km, creating the appearance of a double mesopause (Bills and Gardner, 1993; Yu and She, 1995; Gusev et al., 2006). Our results show that the relative temperature maximum in the upper mesosphere (and thus the double mesopause) can result from heating by eddy turbulence. According to our model, there is a close connection between the extra temperature peak in the mesosphere and the oxygen atom density distribution. The main feature of the O density height profile produced by eddy turbulence in our model is a double peak instead of a single peak of O density. A rocket experiment called TOMEX confirms these results (Hecht et al., 2004). Applying our model to the results of the TOMEX rocket campaign gives good agreement with both the temperature and oxygen profiles observed. Climatology of the midlatitude mesopause and green line emission shows that the double mesopause and the double layers of the green line emission, corresponding to the double O density height profile, are mainly observed in spring and fall (Yu and She, 1995; Liu and Shepherd, 2006). Further observations of the oxygen atom densities and the double mesopause would improve our understanding of the impact of turbulence on critical mesospheric parameters.

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