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  1. The mesospheric polar vortex (MPV) plays a critical role in coupling the atmosphere-ionosphere system, so its accurate simulation is imperative for robust predictions of the thermosphere and ionosphere. While the stratospheric polar vortex is widely understood and characterized, the mesospheric polar vortex is much less well-known and observed, a short-coming that must be addressed to improve predictability of the ionosphere. The winter MPV facilitates top-down coupling via the communication of high energy particle precipitation effects from the thermosphere down to the stratosphere, though the details of this mechanism are poorly understood. Coupling from the bottom-up involves gravity waves (GWs), planetary waves (PWs), and tidal interactions that are distinctly different and important during weak vs. strong vortex states, and yet remain poorly understood as well. Moreover, generation and modulation of GWs by the large wind shears at the vortex edge contribute to the generation of traveling atmospheric disturbances and traveling ionospheric disturbances. Unfortunately, representation of the MPV is generally not accurate in state-of-the-art general circulation models, even when compared to the limited observational data available. Models substantially underestimate eastward momentum at the top of the MPV, which limits the ability to predict upward effects in the thermosphere. The zonal wind bias responsible for this missing momentum in models has been attributed to deficiencies in the treatment of GWs and to an inaccurate representation of the high-latitude dynamics. In the coming decade, simulations of the MPV must be improved. 
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  2. Abstract

    The cloud imaging and particle size (CIPS) instrument onboard the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere satellite provides images of gravity waves (GWs) near the stratopause and lowermost mesosphere (altitudes of 50–55 km). GW identification is based on Rayleigh Albedo Anomaly (RAA) variances, which are derived from GW‐induced fluctuations in Rayleigh scattering at 265 nm. Based on 3 years of CIPS RAA variance data from 2019 to 2022, we report for the first time the seasonal distribution of GWs entering the mesosphere with high (7.5 km) horizontal resolution on a near‐global scale. Seasonally averaged GW variances clearly show spatial and temporal patterns of GW activity, mainly due to the seasonal variation of primary GW sources such as convection, the polar vortices and flow over mountains. Measurements of stratospheric GWs derived from Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) observations of 4.3 μm brightness temperature perturbations within the same 3‐year time range are compared to the CIPS results. The comparisons show that locations of GW hotspots are similar in the CIPS and AIRS observations. Variability in GW variances and the monthly changes in background zonal wind suggest a strong GW‐wind correlation. This study demonstrates the utility of the CIPS GW variance data set for statistical investigations of GWs in the lowermost mesosphere, as well as provides a reference for location/time selection for GW case studies.

     
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  3. Abstract

    We analyze the gravity waves (GWs) observed by a Rayleigh lidar at the Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research (ALOMAR) (16.08°E, 69.38°N) in Norway atz ∼ 20–85 km on 12–14 January 2016. These GWs propagate upward and downward away fromzknee = 57 and 64 km at a horizontally‐displaced location with periodsτr ∼ 5–10 hr and vertical wavelengthsλz ∼ 9–20 km. Because the hodographs are distorted, we introduce an alternative method to determine the GW parameters. We find that these GWs are medium to large‐scale, and propagate north/northwestward with intrinsic horizontal phase speeds of ∼35–65 m/s. Since the GW parameters are similar above and belowzknee, these are secondary GWs created by local body forces (LBFs) south/southeast of ALOMAR. We use the nudged HIAMCM (HIgh Altitude Mechanistic general Circulation Model) to model these events. Remarkably, the model reproduces similar GW structures over ALOMAR, withzknee = 58 and 66 km. The event #1 GWs are created by a LBF at ∼35°E, ∼60°N, andz ∼ 58 km. This LBF is created by the breaking and dissipation of primary GWs generated and amplified by the imbalance of the polar night jet below the wind maximum; the primary GWs for this event are created atz ∼ 25–35 km at 49–53°N. We also find that the HIAMCM GWs agree well with those observed by the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) satellite, and that those AIRS GWs south and north of ∼50°N over Europe are mainly mountain waves and GWs from the polar vortex, respectively.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The Hunga Tonga Hunga‐Ha'apai (HTHH) volcanic eruption on 15 January 2022 injected water vapor and SO2into the stratosphere. Several months after the eruption, significantly stronger westerlies, and a weaker Brewer‐Dobson circulation developed in the stratosphere of the Southern Hemisphere and were accompanied by unprecedented temperature anomalies in the stratosphere and mesosphere. In August 2022, the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) satellite instrument observed record‐breaking temperature anomalies in the stratosphere and mesosphere that alternate signs with altitude. Ensemble simulations carried out with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM6) indicate that the strengthening of the stratospheric westerlies explains the mesospheric temperature changes. The stronger westerlies cause stronger westward gravity wave drag in the mesosphere. Although the enhanced gravity wave drag is partly balanced by a weakening of planetary wave forcing, the net result is an acceleration of the mesospheric mean meridional circulation. The stronger mesospheric circulation, in turn, plays a dominant role in driving the changes in mesospheric temperatures. This study highlights the impact of large volcanic eruptions on middle atmospheric dynamics and provides insight into their long‐term effects in the mesosphere. On the other hand, we could not discern a clear mechanism for the observed changes in stratospheric circulation. In fact, an examination of the WACCM ensemble reveals that not every member reproduces the large changes observed by SABER. We conclude that there is a stochastic component to the stratospheric response to the HTHH eruption.

     
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  5. Abstract

    This work evaluates zonal winds in both hemispheres near the polar winter mesopause in the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) with thermosphere‐ionosphere eXtension combined with data assimilation using the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) (WACCMX+DART). We compare 14 years (2006–2019) of WACCMX+DART zonal mean zonal winds near 90 km to zonal mean zonal winds derived from Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) geopotential height measurements during Arctic mid‐winter. 10 years (2008–2017) of WACCMX+DART zonal mean zonal winds are compared to SABER in the Antarctic mid‐winter. It is well known that WACCM, and WACCM‐X, zonal winds at the polar winter mesopause exhibit a strong easterly (westward) bias. One explanation for this is that the models omit higher order gravity waves (GWs), and thus the eastward drag caused by these GWs. We show for the first time that the model winds near the polar winter mesopause are in closer agreement with SABER observations when the winds near the stratopause are weak or reversed. The model and observed mesosphere and lower thermosphere winds agree most during dynamically disturbed times often associated with minor or major sudden stratospheric warming events. Results show that the deceleration of the stratospheric and mesospheric polar night jet allows enough eastward GWs to propagate into the mesosphere, driving eastward zonal winds that are in agreement with the observations. Thus, in both hemispheres, the winter polar night jet speed and direction near the stratopause may be a useful proxy for model fidelity in the polar winter upper mesosphere.

     
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  6. Abstract

    The work presented here introduces a new data set for inclusion of energetic electron precipitation (EEP) in climate model simulations. Measurements made by the medium energy proton and electron detector (MEPED) instruments onboard both the Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites and the European Space Agency Meteorological Operational satellites are used to create global maps of precipitating electron fluxes. Unlike most previous data sets, the electron fluxes are computed using both the 0° and 90° MEPED detectors. Conversion of observed, broadband electron count rates to differential spectral fluxes uses a linear combination of analytical functions instead of a single function. Two dimensional maps of electron spectral flux are created using Delaunay triangulation to account for the relatively sparse nature of the MEPED sampling. This improves on previous studies that use a 1D interpolation over magnetic local time or L‐shell zonal averaging of the MEPED data. A Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) simulation of the southern hemisphere 2003 winter using the new precipitating electron data set is shown to agree more closely with observations of odd nitrogen than WACCM simulations using other MEPED‐based electron data sets. Simulated EEP‐induced odd nitrogen increases led to ozone losses of more than 15% in the polar stratosphere near 10 hPa in September of 2003.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Limited observational evidence indicates that ionospheric changes caused by Arctic sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) occur at middle latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. However, it is not known if a similar interhemispheric linkage is produced by Antarctic SSWs. Here we examine thermospheric and ionospheric anomalies observed in September 2019 at middle latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. We report persistent (at least 30 days) and strong (up to 80%–100%) positive anomalies in the daytime total electron content (TEC) and increases in the thermospheric O/N2ratio in the western region of North America. However, central and eastern regions of North America experience moderate suppression of TEC reaching 20%–40% of the baseline. Different positive and negative anomalies are observed over the European sector. We hypothesize that regional differences in the TEC response could be related to modulation of thermospheric winds during SSWs, changes in thermospheric composition, and differences in declination angle.

     
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  8. Abstract

    We show that inter‐model variation due to under‐constraint by observations impacts the ability to predict material transport in the lower thermosphere. Lagrangian coherent structures (LCSs), indicating regions of maximal separation (or convergence) in a time‐varying flow, are derived in the lower thermosphere from models for several space shuttle water vapor plume events. We find that inter‐model differences in thermospheric transport manifest in LCSs in a way that is more stringent than mean wind analyses. LCSs defined using horizontal flow fields from the Specified Dynamics version of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model with thermosphere‐ionosphere eXtension (SD‐WACCMX) at 109 km altitude are compared to Global Ultraviolet Imager (GUVI) observations of the space shuttle main engine plume. In one case, SD‐WACCMX predicts an LCS ridge to produce spreading not found in the observations. LCSs and tracer transport from SD‐WACCMX and from data assimilative WACCMX (WACCMX + DART) are compared to each other and to GUVI observations. Differences in the modeled LCSs and tracer positions appear between SD‐WACCMX and WACCMX + DART despite the similarity of mean winds. WACCMX + DART produces better tracer transport results for a July 2006 event, but it is unclear which model performs better in terms of LCS ridges. For a February 2010 event, when mean winds differ by up to 50 m/s between the models, differences in LCSs and tracer trajectories are even more severe. Low‐pass filtering the winds up to zonal wavenumber 6 reduces but does not eliminate inter‐model LCS differences. Inter‐model alignment of LCSs improves at a lower 60 km altitude.

     
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