Physics Student Research

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting


San Francisco, CA, USA

Publication Date



Mesospheric temperature anomalies associated with Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSWs) have been observed extensively in the polar regions. However, observations of these anomalies at midlatitudes are sparse. The very dense 11-year data set, collected between 1993–2004, with the Rayleigh-scatter lidar at the Atmospheric Lidar Observatory (ALO; 41.7°N, 111.8°W) at the Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences (CASS) on the campus of Utah State University (USU), has been carefully examined for such anomalies. The temperatures derived from these data extend over the mesosphere, from 45 to 90 km. During this period extensive data were acquired during seven major SSW events. In this work we aim to determine the characteristics of the midlatitude mesospheric temperatures during these seven major SSWs. To do this, comparisons were made between the temperature profiles on individual nights before, during, and after the SSW events and the corresponding derived climatological temperature profiles (31-day by 11-year average) for those nights. A consistent disturbance pattern was observed in the mesospheric temperatures during these SSWs. A distinct shift from the nominal winter temperature pattern to a pattern more characteristic of summer temperatures was seen in the midlatitude mesosphere close to when the zonal winds in the polar stratosphere (at 10 hPa, 60° N) reversed from eastward to westward. This shift lasted for several days. This change in pattern included coolings in the upper mesosphere, comparable to those seen in the polar regions, and warmings in the lower mesosphere.