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Keywords:

  • middle atmosphere dynamics;
  • sudden warmings;
  • planetary and gravity waves

[1] The dynamical response of the polar mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) to sudden stratospheric warmings is investigated using MF radars at Davis (69°S, 78°E), Syowa (69°S, 40°E) and Rothera (68°S, 68°W) in the Antarctic and Poker Flat (65°N, 147°W) and Andenes (69°N, 16°E) in the Arctic. Mean winds, gravity waves and planetary waves are investigated during sudden stratospheric warmings, and comparisons are made with climatological means. The available MF radar data set includes six major sudden stratospheric warmings in the Northern Hemisphere and the unprecedented 2002 Southern Hemisphere major stratospheric warming. Three of the six northern events are relatively weak and could almost be classed as minor warmings, while the larger three have similar characteristics to the event in the Southern Hemisphere. Zonal wind reversals associated with the major warmings in both hemispheres are generally weaker and earlier by several days in the mesosphere than in the stratosphere. There are, however, significant differences between locations in their response to stratospheric warmings. The zonal winds are remarkably weaker than average during both winter and spring around the time of the southern major warming of 2002, but these effects are not observed for the Northern Hemisphere events. Gravity wave activity is found to vary significantly between individual stratospheric warming events and also between individual locations.