• Autonomous Full-Time Lidar Measurements Of Polar Stratospheric Clouds At The South Pole

      Campbell, James R.; Sassen, Kenneth (2006)
      Polar stratospheric clouds (PSC) are an artifact of extremely low temperatures in the lower-stratosphere caused by a lack of sunlight during winter. Their presence induces increased concentrations of chlorine and bromine radicals that drive catalytic ozone destruction upon the return of sunlight in spring. An eye-safe micropulse lidar (MPL; 0.23 mum) was installed at the Scott-Amundsen South Pole Station, Antarctica in December 1999 to collect continuous long-term measurements of polar clouds. A four-year data subset for analyzing PSC is derived from measurements for austral winters 2000 and 2003--2005. A statistical algorithm based on MPL signal uncertainties is designed to retrieve PSC boundary heights, attenuated scattering ratios and demonstrate instrument performance for low signal-to-noise measurements. The MPL measurements consist mostly of Type II PSC (i.e., ice). The likelihood for Type I measurements are described for specific conditions. Seasonal PSC macrophysical properties are examined relative to thermodynamic and chemical characteristics. The potential for dehumidification and denitrification of the lower Antarctic stratosphere is examined by comparing PSC observations to theoretical predictions for cloud based on common scenarios for water vapor and nitric acid concentrations. Conceptual models for seasonal PSC occurrence, denitrification and dehumidification and ozone loss are described. A linear relationship is established between total integrated PSC scattering and ozone loss, with high correlation. Polar vortex dynamics are investigated in relation to PSC occurrence, including synoptic-scale geopotential height anomalies, isentropic airmass trajectories and local-scale gravity waves. Moisture overrunning, from quasi-adiabatic cooling and transport along isentropic boundaries, is considered a primary mechanism for PSC occurrence. Middle and late-season PSC are found to be the result of mixing of moist air from the outer edges of the vortex that coots upon reaching South Pole. Gravity waves are considered to be only a secondary influence on PSC nucleation and growth.