• Lidar and radar studies of turbulence, instabilities, and waves in the Arctic middle atmosphere

      Li, Jintai; Collins, Richard L.; Newman, David E.; Simpson, William R.; Thorsen, Denise L.; Williams, Bifford P. (2019-08)
      This dissertation presents new studies of gravity waves and turbulence in the Arctic middle atmosphere. The studies employ lidars and radar to characterize wave activity, instability and turbulence. In the lidar-based studies, we analyze turbulence and wave activity in the MLT based on lidar measurements of atmospheric temperature, density and sodium density, temperature and wind. This combination of measurements provides simultaneous characterization of both the atmospheric stability as well as material transport that allow us to estimate the eddy diffusion coefficient associated with turbulence. We extend the scope of previous studies by developing retrievals of potential temperature and sodium mixing ratio from the Rayleigh density temperature lidar and sodium resonance density lidar measurements. We find that the estimated values of turbulent eddy diffusion coefficients, K, of 400-2800 m²/s, are larger than typically reported (1-1000 m²/s) while the values of the energy dissipation rates, ε, of 5-20 mW/kg, are more typical (0.1-1000 mW/kg). We find that upwardly propagating gravity waves accompany the instabilities. In the presence of instabilities, we find that the gravity waves are dissipating as they propagate upward. We estimate the energy available for turbulence generation from the wave activities and estimate the possible turbulent energy dissipation rate, εGW. We find that the values of εGW are comparable to the values of ε. We find that the estimate of the depth of the layer of turbulence are critical to the estimate of the values of both ε and εGW. We find that our method tends to overestimate the depth, and thus overestimate the value of ε, and underestimate the value of εGW. In the radar-based study, we conduct a retrieval of turbulent parameters in the mesosphere based on a hypothesis test. We distinguish between the presence and absence of turbulence based on fitting Voigt-based and Lorentzian-based line shapes to the radar spectra. We also allow for the presence and absence of meteoric smoke particles (MSPs) in the radar spectra. We find examples of Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) spectra showing both the presence and absence of turbulence and the presence and absence of MSPs in the upper mesosphere. Based on the analysis, we find that relatively few of the radar measurements yield significant measurements of turbulence. The significant estimates of turbulence have a strength that is over a factor of two larger than the average of the estimates from all of the radar measurements. The probability of true positives increases with the quality factor of the spectrum. The method yields significant measurements of turbulence with probabilities of true positives of greater than 30% and false positives less than 0.01%.
    • Radar studies of turbulence and lidar studies of the nickel layer in the Arctic mesosphere

      Li, Jintai; Collins, Richard L.; Simpson, William R.; Newman, David E. (2016-05)
      This thesis presents studies of the Arctic middle atmosphere using Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) and resonance lidar at Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR), Chatanika, Alaska. The Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) provides measurements of mesospheric turbulence and the resonance lidar provides measurements of mesospheric nickel layer. We develop retrieval and analysis techniques to determine the characteristics of the turbulence and the nickel layer. We present measurements of mesospheric turbulence with PFISR on 23 April 2008 and 18 February 2013. We characterize mesospheric turbulence in terms of the energy dissipation rate as a function of altitude and time on these days. We present an extensive analysis of the radar measurements to show that the use of high quality PFISR data and an accurate characterization of the geophysical conditions are essential to achieve accurate turbulent measurements. We find that the retrieved values of the energy dissipation rate vary significantly based on how the data is selected. We present measurements of mesospheric nickel layer with resonance lidar on the night of 27-28 November 2012 and 20-21 December 2012. We characterize the mesospheric nickel layer in terms of the nickel concentration as a function of altitude on these days. We find that our nickel concentrations are significantly higher than expected from studies of meteors. We present an extensive analysis of the lidar measurements to show that these measurements of unexpectedly high values of the nickel concentrations are accurate and not biased by the lidar measurements.