Radiative and energetic constraints on the global annual mean atomic oxygen concentration in the mesopause region


  • The copyright line for this article was changed on 16 March 2015 after original online publication.


[1] We present a new approach to constrain and validate atomic oxygen (O) concentrations in the mesopause region (~ 80 to ~ 100 km). In a prior companion paper [Mlynczak et al., 2013], we presented O-atom concentrations in the mesopause region inferred from measurements of day ozone and night hydroxyl emission rates made by the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument. The approach presented here uses the constraint of global, annual mean energy balance to derive atomic oxygen concentrations, consistent with rates of radiative cooling by carbon dioxide (CO2) and solar heating due to molecular oxygen (O2). The mathematical difference between these cooling and heating rates, on a global annual mean basis, effectively constrains the maximum heating rate for the sum of all other processes. The remaining terms, solar heating due to ozone plus a series of exothermic chemical reactions can be expressed as functions of O. This new approach enables a simple mathematical expression that yields the vertical profile of global annual mean “radiatively constrained” atomic oxygen in the mesopause region. The radiatively constrained atomic oxygen depends only on the CO2 cooling rates, O2 solar heating rates, and standard reaction rate coefficients and enthalpies. Radiative cooling and solar heating rates used in these analyses are derived from measurements made by the SABER instrument on the NASA Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics satellite. There is excellent agreement between the SABER radiatively constrained atomic oxygen and that derived from the SABER ozone and OH emission measurements over most of the mesopause region. Radiatively constrained atomic oxygen represents an upper limit on the global average O-atom concentration in the mesopause region.