Model-measurement comparison of mesospheric temperature inversions, and a simple theory for their occurrence
Sica, R. J., Argall, P. S., Shepherd, T. G. and Koshyk, J. N. (2007) Model-measurement comparison of mesospheric temperature inversions, and a simple theory for their occurrence. Geophysical Research Letters, 34. L23806. ISSN 0094-8276
To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2007GL030627
Mesospheric temperature inversions are well established observed phenomena, yet their properties remain the subject of ongoing research. Comparisons between Rayleigh-scatter lidar temperature measurements obtained by the University of Western Ontario's Purple Crow Lidar (42.9°N, 81.4°W) and the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model are used to quantify the statistics of inversions. In both model and measurements, inversions occur most frequently in the winter and exhibit an average amplitude of ∼10 K. The model exhibits virtually no inversions in the summer, while the measurements show a strongly reduced frequency of occurrence with an amplitude about half that in the winter. A simple theory of mesospheric inversions based on wave saturation is developed, with no adjustable parameters. It predicts that the environmental lapse rate must be less than half the adiabatic lapse rate for an inversion to form, and it predicts the ratio of the inversion amplitude and thickness as a function of environmental lapse rate. Comparison of this prediction to the actual amplitude/thickness ratio using the lidar measurements shows good agreement between theory and measurements.