• 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%.