Climate and Dynamics
Observations of overturning in the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere
Article first published online: 22 JAN 2004
Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012)
Volume 109, Issue D2, 27 January 2004
How to Cite
2004), Observations of overturning in the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D02S04, doi:10.1029/2002JD003067., , , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 22 JAN 2004
- Article first published online: 22 JAN 2004
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 OCT 2003
- Manuscript Revised: 22 SEP 2003
- Manuscript Received: 22 OCT 2002
- vortex rolls;
 A number of observations of the sodium density primarily in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (but also of the electron density structure) have shown what appears to be overturning or convective roll cells near the transition from the mesosphere to the lower thermosphere. The cells are found in the region between 95 and 105 km and occur near the boundary between the region of lower stability in the mesosphere and the region of higher stability in the lower thermosphere. The vertical scale for the rolls is ∼5–6 km, and the timescale is ∼1–3 hours. The rolls occur in a region characterized by large shear in the neutral winds, but the timescales are too long to be explained by simple Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. We present observations from the University of Illinois lidar facility located at the Starfire Optical Range near Albuquerque, New Mexico, from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and from the Maui/MALT Lidar Facility located on Maui in Hawaii that show the overturning structure. possible mechanisms for generating the convective rolls are discussed, Including the relationship of the observed features to the characteristics expected for an inflection point instability.