Date of Award

5-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Michael J. Taylor

Abstract

Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs) are tenuous ice clouds that form near the cold (<150K) summer mesopause region (80-85 km). From the ground, these clouds are seen during twilight hours as Noctilucent or “night shining” Clouds (NLCs) and are typically seen from latitudes from 50° to 65°. Observations by the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) instruments on the NOAA satellites have shown that the occurrence and brightness of NLCs have been increasing over the last three decades prompting speculation concerning their possible role in climate change. Recently the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite was launched (April 2007) and is the first satellite dedicated to the study of NLCs. In this report, we compare SBUV and AIM PMC observations with ground-based image data collected during two campaigns from Edmonton, Canada (June 30-July 17, 2007) and Delta Junction, Alaska (July 29-August 17, 2007). Four nights of data are discussed where coincident measurements were obtained by AIM, SBUV/2 and ground-based imagers. The results show good spatial or temporal agreement, but rarely both, and illustrate the importance of coordinated measurements for better understanding the geographic and local time variability of PMCs. Initial studies using data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the AURA satellite are also presented.

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