All Physics Faculty Publications

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Conference Paper

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Proceedings of the SPIE: Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere, Environment, and Space



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The Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences (CASS) at Utah State University (USU) operates the ALO for studying the middle atmosphere from the stratosphere to the lower thermosphere. ALO’s mid-latitude location (41.74°N, 111.81°W, 1466 m) is very unique in that it is in the middle of an extensive set of rugged mountains, the Rocky Mountains, which are a major orographic source of gravity waves that may give rise to a longitudinal variation in the mesospheric structure. Mesospheric observations between approximately 45 and 90 km have been carried out on many clear nights with the ALO Rayleigh- scatter lidar since late 1993. They have been carried out, mostly, with a frequency-doubled Nd:YAG laser producing 18 W at 532 nm and a 44-cm zenith-pointing telescope. To obtain better and more complete observations in the future, a considerably bigger steerable telescope, an alexandrite ring laser for resonance scatter, and an expanded data-acquisition system are being developed. The observations in the extensive existing database have been reduced to provide absolute temperature profiles, which provide important information for understanding the physics and chemistry of the middle atmosphere and for examining global change. They have been used to make a mesospheric temperature climatology that has been and is being used to examine secular, annual, seasonal, and tidal variations, to compare with other temperature observations and with modeled temperatures, and to study mesospheric inversion layers. Day-to-day changes in the temperature profiles are also being compared to meteorological parameters to see if mesospheric changes can be related to low-altitude sources. Temporal and spatial fluctuations in the density profiles have also been examined to provide more direct information on gravity wave activity. And, on 24 June 1999 UT, the lidar probed the first known noctilucent cloud to penetrate to this low latitude, approximately 10° equatorward of previously reported sightings and detections.


Published by SPIE in the Proceedings of SPIE in volume 4153 Lidar Remote Sensing for Industry and Environment Monitoring. Publisher PDF is available for download through link above.