Geophysical Research Letters
  • Open Access

Radiative constraints on the minimum atomic oxygen concentration in the mesopause region



[1] Atomic oxygen [O] plays a fundamental role in the photochemistry and energy budget of the terrestrial mesopause region (80–100 km). [O] is difficult to measure directly and is typically inferred at night from measurements of hydroxyl [OH] or molecular oxygen [O2] emissions. During the day, measurements of ozone [O3] concentration are used to infer [O]. These inferences carry significant uncertainties [Mlynczak et al., 2013a]. Recently, Mlynczak et al. [2013b] have used energy balance principles to set an upper limit on the annual global mean [O] concentration in the mesopause region. In this paper, we use night measurements of OH emission to set a lower limit on the global annual mean atomic oxygen concentration. These independent, radiatively constrained values of the maximum and minimum atomic oxygen concentration also place constraints on the magnitude of dynamical processes in the annual global mean energy budget of the mesopause region.