Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

Polar mesospheric clouds: Infrared measurements from the Midcourse Space Experiment


  • 10 November 2007


[1] Spatial Infrared Imaging Telescope (SPIRIT) III radiometer on the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite measured highly structured infrared, IR, emission from polar mesospheric cloud (PMC) ice particles at northern latitudes above 51 degrees on 22 July 1996 in the 11.1 to 13.2 and 18.2 to 25.1 μm radiometer channels, bands C and E, respectively. Measurements of the PMC thermal emissions included the observation of an extended cloud at 84.8°N and 325.6°E at 0313:25 UT, a local solar time of approximately 0056. In this Earth limb observation, the radiance due to the PMC has been isolated from other sources-atmospheric emission, nonrejected off axis radiation from the terrestrial surface and zodiacal radiance-and inverted to determine the volume emission rates of the ice particles at a spatial resolution of 0.3 km in the altitude range from 83.4 to 86.4 km. The band C PMC volume emission rate profile has a maximum value at 84.0 ± 0.3 km and decreases to one half the peak value at 85.0 and 83.5 km. Temperatures in the range from 143 ± 7 to 130 ± 8 K and ice volume densities from 1.5 to 0.5 × 10−13 cm3 per cm3 were determined from the LWIR volume emission rates at altitudes from 83.4 to 86.4 km. The PMC ice densities are equivalent to an enriched gas phase water mixing ratio of 8 to 16 parts per million by volume, ppmv, and a vertical column mass density of 3.3 × 10−8 gms cm−2 in this observation.