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Multi-year temperature measurements of the middle atmosphere at Chatanika, Alaska (65°N, 147°W)


Over an eight-year period (1997–2005) Rayleigh lidar temperature measurements of the stratosphere and mesosphere (40–80 km) have been made at Poker Flat Research Range, Chatanika, Alaska (65°N, 147°W). The Rayleigh lidar measurements have been made between mid-August and mid-May. These measurements have yielded a total of approximately 904 hours of temperature measurements of the middle atmosphere over 116 nights. The seasonal evolution of the middle atmosphere shows an annual cycle with maximum in summer below 60 km and a reversal of the cycle with minimum in summer above 60 km. The monthly mean stratopause has a highest temperature of 273 K at an altitude of 47.5 km in May and a lowest temperature of 243 K at an altitude of 54.7 km in January. However, nightly stratopause temperatures in January and December are sometimes warmer than those in May and August. An elevated stratopause (>65 km) is observed on 5 occasions in 41 observations in January and February. The Chatanika measurements are compared with five other Arctic data sets and models. The upper stratosphere at this site is slightly colder than the zonal mean as well as sites in Greenland and Scandinavia with the largest differences found in January. We discuss the wintertime temperatures in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere in terms of the position of the polar vortex and the increased occurrence of stratospheric warming events during the 1997–2005 observation period.


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Correspondence to Brentha Thurairajah.

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Thurairajah, B., Collins, R.L. & Mizutani, K. Multi-year temperature measurements of the middle atmosphere at Chatanika, Alaska (65°N, 147°W). Earth Planet Sp 61, 755–764 (2009).

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Key words

  • Circulation
  • mesosphere
  • stratosphere
  • Arctic
  • planetary waves
  • Rayleigh lidar