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Study of thermal structure differences from coordinated lidar observations over Mt. Abu (24.5° N, 72.7° E) and Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E)
© Sharma et al. 2015
- Received: 5 September 2014
- Accepted: 29 May 2015
- Published: 30 June 2015
Rayleigh lidars at Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E), a tropical site, and at Mt. Abu (24.5° N, 72.7° E), a subtropical site, in India were operated simultaneously during the months of March, April, and May 2004. Significant differences are found in the temperatures over both the locations. Higher temperature, ~10–20 K, in the altitude region of 40–65 km is found during March 2004 over Mt. Abu. The mean stratopause temperature during March 2004 is found ~284 K at an altitude of 48 km over Mt. Abu, which is 18 K higher than the observed stratopause temperature of ~266 K over Gadanki. During April and May 2004, the temperatures over Mt. Abu are higher in the entire altitude range of 30–70 km than over Gadanki. Lidar-observed temperatures, over both the locations, are compared with the temperatures observed by SABER (Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry; onboard TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics)) and HALOE (Halogen Occultation Experiment; onboard UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite)). It is found that the lidar-observed temperatures are in qualitative agreement with the temperature observed by satellites, though quantitatively there are significant differences. Wave types of fluctuations have been noted in the upper stratosphere and in the lower mesosphere over both the locations.
- Planetary Wave
- Middle Atmosphere
- Maximum Temperature Difference
- Lidar Observation
The middle atmosphere is an important region of the Earth’s atmosphere and plays very important role in deciphering atmospheric dynamics. Baldwin et al. (2003) emphatically stated the importance of the stratosphere in deciding terrestrial weather and most importantly the role of the stratosphere in weather forecasting. Temperature is an important physical entity to understand the chemical and dynamical features of this region (Singh et al. 1996). A Rayleigh lidar provides vertically well-resolved density and temperature profiles in the middle atmosphere above the altitude of 30 km. Several studies have been made in the past for studying atmospheric temperature using a Rayleigh lidar, at mid- and high-latitude stations (e.g., Hauchecorne and Chanin 1980; Shibata et al. 1986; Jenkins et al. 1987; Whiteway and Carswell 1994). In the last decade, there have been a number of studies of the temperature structure at low latitudes (e.g., Parameswaran et al. 2000; Sivakumar et al. 2003; Chen et al. 2004; Chandra et al. 2005; Sharma et al. 2006; Batista et al. 2008; Kishore Kumar et al. 2008; Dou et al. 2009; Batista et al. 2009; Sivakumar et al. 2011; Sharma et al. 2012, and references therein).
Batista et al. (2009) studied middle atmospheric temperatures in the southern hemisphere at Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil (23° S, 46° W) using 14 years of lidar data. They found smaller seasonal thermal amplitude and significant differences from the MSISE-90 model, with temperature lower than the model below the stratopause and higher above the stratopause. Sivakumar et al. (2011) presented a middle atmospheric thermal structure over a southern hemispheric French station, Reunion Island (20.8° S, 55.5° E) using a Rayleigh lidar. Observed temperature profiles were compared with observations from different satellites and they noted reasonably good agreement.
There are several studies on different types of atmospheric waves, using radars, lidars, radiosondes, and optical observations in the middle atmosphere and lower thermosphere over low and equatorial latitudes (e.g., Hirota 1978; Hauchecorne and Chanin 1983; Vincent et al. 1998; Yoshida et al. 1999; Kovalam et al. 1999; Gurubaran et al. 2001; Rajeev et al. 2003; Batista et al. 2004; Lima et al. 2004; Sasi et al. 2005; Takahashi et al. 2007; Lima et al. 2008; Guharay et al. 2011; Rao Venkateswara et al. 2012; Guharay et al. 2013, and reference therein). Recently, Araujo et al. (2014) and Guharay et al. (2014) have presented a comprehensive study on seasonality and variability in the planetary waves and long-period atmospheric oscillations observed over equatorial and low-latitude stations. In their study, they have used long-term meteor wind radar measurements over Sao Joao do Cariri (7.4° S, 36.5° W) and Cachoeira Paulista (22.7° S, 45.0° W) in the southern hemisphere.
Most of the studies are emphasizing more on the climatological thermal structure over a given location. Currently, there are two operational Rayleigh lidars at low latitudes in India, one at Gurushikhar, Mt. Abu (24.5° N, 72.7° E, mean sea level height 1.7 km), and the other at Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E, mean sea level height 0.4 km). Both the lidars are in regular operation since 1998. For a comparative study, lidars were operated in a co-coordinated fashion during March, April, and May 2004 for several nights at both the locations. In this paper, we briefly present lidar-observed short-term variability in the thermal structures, emphasizing the observed differences in the thermal structure over two sites in the Indian region.
Lidar probing of the Earth’s atmosphere was initiated at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) during the early 1990s, and initially lidar was operated over Ahmedabad, a subtropical location, for the study of stratospheric temperature and aerosols (Jayaraman et al. 1995, 1996). Similar aerosol studies were carried out using ground-based lidar in the tropical atmosphere (Devara and Raj 1993; Raj and Devara 1993).
Major specifications of lidar systems at PRL and NARL
581C-10 (Quantal, France)
PL8020 (Continuum, USA)
Operating wavelength (nm)
1064, 532, and 355
Average energy per pulse (mJ)
1000, 440, and 180
Pulse width (ns)
Pulse repetition frequency (Hz)
Beam width (mm)
10 (expanded to 60)
9 (expanded to 90)
Beam divergence (mRad)
Field of view (mRad)
Interference filter (nm)
Thorn EMI, UK, A9813
Hamamatsu, Japan, R3234-01
SR430 (Stanford Research Systems), USA: Programmable
Four-channel PC-based data acquisition system operating with EG & G ORTEC MCS software
Bin width (μs)
640 × 10−3
Integration time (s)
600 (for 6000 shots)
250 (for 5000 shots)
Furthermore, temperature profiles observed by SABER (Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry), onboard TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics), were used in the present study. SABER was launched, onboard the TIMED satellite, into a 74.1° inclination, 625-km orbit with a period of 1.7 h in December 2001. It is a ten-channel broadband limb-scanning infrared radiometer covering the spectral range from 1.27 to 17 μm (Russell et al. 1999, Yee et al. 1999). Among many other parameters, SABER provides vertical profiles of kinetic temperature, pressure, and water vapor. Its vertical instantaneous field of view is approximately 2.0 km at a 60-km altitude, the vertical scanning step is ~0.4 km, and the atmosphere is scanned from the surface up to the height of ~400 km. The latitudinal coverage has a 60-day yaw cycle that allows observing latitudes from about 82° S to 82° N. SABER temperatures are retrieved from the limb radiance in the 15-μm CO2 band that is formed by radiative transitions from the vibrationally rotationally excited levels of CO2 molecules. Remsberg et al. (2008) have given comprehensive analysis of the current SABER V1.07 temperature. The SABER Version 1.07 kinetic temperature is validated by Remsberg et al. (2008) who provided the following systematic error due to CO2 abundance uncertainty: 1.3 K at 80 km, 3.6 K at 90 km, and 1.4 K at 100 km.
Observations from another satellite experiment, HALOE (Halogen Occultation Experiment) onboard UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite), were also used along with ground-based lidar observations. The HALOE was launched onboard a UARS spacecraft in September 1991. The experiment uses solar occultation to measure vertical profiles of temperature, a number of minor constituents, and aerosol concentration with a height resolution of 3.7 km for an instantaneous field of view of 1.6 km at the earth limb. It uses the atmospheric transmission measurements in the 2.8-μm CO2 band for the retrieval of temperature profile. It provides data in the altitude range of about 15 to 130 km, depending on channel. Latitudinal coverage is from 80° S to 80° N. Detailed procedures for analysis of various atmospheric constituents from HALOE satellite observations and discussions have been reported by various groups (e.g., Russell et al. 1993; Singh et al. 1996; Randel et al. 1998; Remsberg et al. 2002a, 2002b, and reference therein). For the present study, we have selected temperature profiles from the closer passes of satellites (±5° latitude-longitude grid) over both the locations, Mt. Abu (24.5° N, 72.7° E) and Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E).
Temperatures obtained on few concurrent nights over Mt. Abu and Gadanki during April 2004 are shown in Fig. 2b. The temperature over Mt. Abu on 12 April 2004 is higher than the temperature observed over Gadanki. Stratopause temperature is 277 K at an altitude of 47 km over Mt. Abu and 268 K at a height of 51 km over Gadanki. On 12 April 2004, stratopause temperature is higher over Mt. Abu, but height of the stratopause is more over Gadanki than over Mt. Abu. Observed mean temperatures over Gadanki during April 2004 are in close agreement with the temperatures observed during 2002 and 2003. Temperatures observed in April 2004 are modestly higher when compared to the mean temperatures during April 2002 and 2003 in the height range of 50–60 km over Mt. Abu.
The mesospheric temperature inversion (MTI) is an interesting feature, which was first reported from a rocket experiment (Schmidlin 1976). MTI was studied more extensively since then by using Rayleigh lidar and satellite-based observations at various locations (e.g., Hauchecorne et al. 1987; Jenkins et al. 1987; Whiteway et al. 1995; Fadnavis et al. 2007; Sridharan et al. 2008, and references therein). The observations of Hauchecorne et al. (1987) from two stations in the south of France showed that the occurrence of the inversion has semiannual variation with maxima in summer and winter. The deviation associated with the inversion was found to be as high as 40 K, and it occurs in the height range of 52–75 km in winter and 70–85 km in summer. The observed inversion was explained by the heating of the turbulent layers generated by the continuous breaking of the upward-propagating internal gravity waves. Meriwether and Gerrard (2004) using the Rayleigh lidar observations made at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH, USA), reported temperature inversions with amplitudes ranging from ~20 K to as much as ~100 K. The layer was located at 85 km during summer and at 70–75 km during winter. Closer examination of the temperature profile observed over Mt. Abu revealed MTI at ~65 km with magnitude of about 10 K. The second example shows a temperature profile on 16 April 2004 over Mt. Abu and 17 April 2004 over Gadanki. The temperatures are higher over Mt. Abu having stratopause temperature ~280 K and height at ~51 km compared to stratopause temperature ~262 K and height ~48 km over Gadanki. The mesospheric temperature inversion is found at Mt. Abu at an altitude of 66 km with a magnitude of ~16 K. In this case also, the temperature values at Gadanki agree fairly well with the mean values for April 2002 and April 2003. Over Mt. Abu, temperatures are higher by about 10 K between 50 and 58 km.
The examples of the temperature profiles on 20 May and 21 May of 2004 are shown in Fig. 2c. On 20 May, the profile at Mt. Abu matches fairly well with the mean profiles for May 2002 and May 2003. The maximum temperature is found at 47 km with a value of 277 K, which is again higher than the value of 258 K at 47 km for Gadanki. However, the values for Gadanki on this night are lower than the mean values during May 2002 and May 2003 in the altitude region of 30 to 52 km. On 21 May 2004, the stratopause is located at 46 km with a temperature of 273 K at Mt. Abu compared to 48 km with a temperature of 257 K at Gadanki. The temperature profile on 21 May follows closely the monthly mean profiles of May 2002 and May 2003. However, at Gadanki, the temperatures on this night are lower by about 10–12 K than the mean temperature values of May 2002 and May 2003 for altitudes below 63 km.
Though CIRA-86 and MSISE-90 model temperatures over the Gadanki (15° N) and Mt. Abu (25° N) are not shown in Fig. 3 as it was getting congested, model temperatures have differences from lidar-observed temperatures over both the locations. Sivakumar et al. (2003) have reported differences between models (CIRA-86 and MSISE-90) and lidar-observed temperatures over Gadanki. Batista et al. (2009) have also reported large differences between lidar-observed temperatures and MSISE-90 model temperatures over a subtropical station in the southern hemisphere using 14 years of lidar observations over Sao Jose dos Campos (23° S, 46° W).
Comparing the monthly mean temperature profiles for the three months, the temperatures are higher in March than in the other two months for Mt. Abu. This observed difference is attributed to different local processes and dynamics over the tropical and subtropical regions. This is in agreement with the earlier climatological study of the middle atmospheric thermal structure over Gadanki, which showed equinoctial maxima at Gadanki (Sivakumar et al. 2003), and over Mt. Abu, summer maximum was reported (Chandra et al. 2005).
Differences (Mt. Abu-Gadanki) in observed temperatures at every 5 km along with standard errors (1σ) at both the locations
Temperature difference (Mt. Abu-Gadanki) (K)
Standard error (1σ) (K)
In this work, we briefly presented the differences and discrepancies in the observed temperatures over two locations and compared with the satellite observations. Thermal structure during March, April, and May 2004 over a subtropical location, Mt. Abu, and over a tropical location, Gadanki, revealed significant day-to-day differences. These differences are plausible either because of instrument differences and/or different geographical location. Instrumental differences are mostly taken care of as the lidar systems at both locations are very much similar in terms of laser power, aperture of the telescope, and other peripherals (given in Table 1). Further, over both the locations, lidar measurements were made only in nights without visible clouds. As far as it is possible, the temporal sampling interval was also kept similar. Therefore, the observed day-to-day variability in the thermal structure between the two stations, which are separated by about 11° in latitude, could be attributed to the difference in the local processes operative in these regions. Gadanki, a tropical location, is very much influenced by low-latitude processes, and the other location, Mt. Abu, is located in the subtropical region. The subtropics are mostly having the imprint of the mid-latitude and at times low-latitude processes also do modulate the local processes over the subtropics (Sharma et al. 2012). Observed differences in the temperature are greater during the month of March than in April and May as March is the closest month to the local winter. Funatsu et al. 2011 studied seasonal and inter-annual stratospheric temperature variability at two relatively close by lidar stations, the Observatoire de Haute-Provence (France) and the Hohenpeissenberg Observatory (Germany) using lidars and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) satellite data. They suggested that in wintertime, differences are to a great extent the result of different local atmospheric dynamics. Further, they emphasized that these studies are important for the estimation of stratospheric temperature trends and can partially explain discrepancies observed in lidars at different locations.
The temperature modulations (noted from the temperature variations over fixed altitudes) over Gadanki are more prominent than over Mt. Abu. This can be attributed to the fact that Gadanki, being a low-latitude location, is more affected by equatorial waves. Holton and Alexander (2000) observed that in the winter, the stratosphere latitudinal temperature gradient is much weaker than the radiative equilibrium gradient. Therefore, the zonal winds in this region of the atmosphere tend to be much weaker than those that would be in thermal wind balance with the equilibrium temperature distribution. This departure from the mean zonal flow from its radiatively determined state strongly suggests that some significant decelerating force must influence the mean zonal flow distribution in the winter stratosphere. They also stated that the planetary waves in the northern winter stratosphere may amplify dramatically over a short period of time and produce rapid meridional transport, which leads to rapid deceleration of the mean zonal flow and accompanying sudden stratospheric warming in the high-latitude regions. Similar to findings reported in the present study, Sridharan et al. (2002) have found the 3.5-day Kelvin waves in the mesopause region over Tirunelveli (8.7° N, 77.8° E) and over Ascension Island (7.8° S, 14.3° W). In the southern hemisphere, Yoshida et al. (1999) reported 3.0 ~ 3.8-day ultrafast Kelvin waves over Jakarta (6.4° S, 106.7° E) using meteor wind radar observations and over Badung (6.9° S, 107.6° E) using radiosonde profiles. Furthermore, Lima et al. (2008) also reported 3–4-day waves over a Brazilian station using wind measurements in the MLT region. Using lidar and Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) observations, Guharay et al. (2011) reported a dominant component of the 3–5-day-period wave at altitudes between 50 and 80 km over two low-latitude stations in Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E) and over a site in north America (23.5° N, 100° W).
Nee et al. (2002) showed that the observed temperatures over Gadanki are higher than the temperatures observed by HALOE onboard UARS. In the present study, also we have found a maximum difference of ~22 K (between the lidar- and HALOE-observed temperature) in the stratopause region. Similar to the finding reported in the present study, Nee et al. (2002) also found maximum temperature differences in the stratopause region. During the month of May, observed differences are less as local phenomena are different during summer months. Prominent gravity wave and planetary wave activities are also equally imperative in modifying thermal structures in the low-latitude region (e.g., Sivakumar et al. 2006; Kishore et al. 2006). These are the plausible causes for the higher temperatures recorded during these months over both the locations. Furthermore, the contributions of the local dynamical processes operative in the equatorial middle atmosphere cannot be ruled out.
Coordinated Rayleigh lidar observations carried out over Mt. Abu and Gadanki during March-May 2004 show higher temperatures at Mt. Abu than at Gadanki by 10–20 K in the altitude range 40–65 km during March 2004. The stratopause temperature at 46 km is ~18 K higher at Mt. Abu than at Gadanki during March 2004. The temperature was also higher at Mt. Abu during April 2004 and May 2004. Temperatures, in the altitude region of 30–47 km are higher in March 2004 than in April and May 2004 over Mt. Abu. However, over Gadanki, the temperature is lower in March 2004 than the temperatures in April and May 2004. In the mesosphere, observed temperatures are higher during March 2004 over Mt. Abu and over Gadanki as compared to mean temperatures during March 2002 and 2003. Day-to-day temperature variations at fixed heights during March 2004 showed wave types of oscillations over both the locations.
We wish to emphasize that the present study addressed few scientific issues related to the middle atmospheric thermal structure in the tropical and subtropical regions during March, April and May. Further scientific issues, covering different seasons, will be resolved by longer periods of simultaneous measurements at both the locations. The present results provide the direction and may have implications on the planning of measurement strategies using lidars for further detailed investigations of the low-latitude regions, with a larger lidar network, which are relatively less explored.
The present work has been done under ISRO’s CAWSES India Phase-II program. The authors are thankful to CAWSES coordinators and mentors for their encouragement. Thanks are due to all members of lidar groups at PRL and Gadanki for their help in lidar observations and in up-keeping the instruments. The authors are thankful to the scientific and technical teams of SABER (onboard TIMED) and HALOE (onboard UARS) satellites for providing data on web sites. This work is supported by the Department of Space, Government of India.
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