Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Vincent B. Wickwar


The Earth’s middle atmosphere is comprised of the stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere, from approximately 10 to 110 km, or approximately 6 to 68 miles. An understanding of the dynamics and climatological conditions in this region is of vital importance to the aerospace industry and military, which both launch aircraft and spacecraft into this region, as well as researchers who study climate change and the interactions between the atmosphere and the Earth, oceans, and space.

Measurements of atmospheric properties (density, temperature, and pressure) in this region are relatively difficult to gather as the middle atmosphere’s altitudes are both too high for weather balloons to reach and too low for satellite. That is why most instruments that acquire data from the middle atmosphere are of the remote sensing variety. Rayleigh-scatter lidar (light detection and ranging) is a remote sensing technique that is particularly effective at acquiring long-term measurements of the middle atmosphere.

This work focuses on the design and implementation, over one annual cycle, of a unique Rayleigh lidar, which pushes the upper altitude boundary that is typical of such systems. In addition, a study of the connection between Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and the midlatitude mesosphere using a long-term Rayleigh lidar dataset is presented.



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