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Keywords:

  • mesopause;
  • lidar;
  • climatology

[1] Between May 2002 and April 2006, many continuous observations of mesopause region temperature and horizontal wind, each lasting longer than 24 h (termed full-diurnal-cycle observations), were completed at the Colorado State University Na Lidar Facility in Fort Collins, Colorado (41°N, 105°W). The combined data set consists of 120 full-diurnal-cycle observations binned on a monthly basis, with a minimum of 7 cycles in April and a maximum of 18 cycles in August. Each monthly data set was analyzed to deduce mean values and tidal period perturbations. After removal of tidal signals, monthly mean values are used for the study of seasonal variations in mesopause region temperature, zonal and meridional winds. The results are in qualitative agreement with our current understanding of mean temperature and wind structures in the midlatitude mesopause region with an observed summer mesopause of 167 K at 84 km, summer peak eastward zonal wind of 48 m/s at 94 km, winter zonal wind reversal at ∼95 km, and peak summer (pole) to winter (pole) meridional flow of 17 m/s at 86 km. The observed mean state in temperature, zonal and meridional winds are compared with the predictions of three current general circulation models, i.e., the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model version 3 (WACCM3) with two different simulations of gravity wavefields, the Hamburg Model of the Neutral and Ionized Atmosphere (HAMMONIA), and the 2003 simulation of the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere-Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIME-GCM). While general agreement is found between observation and model predictions, there exist discrepancies between model prediction and observation, as well as among predictions from different models. Specifically, the predicted summer mesopause altitude is lower by 3 km, 8 km, 3 km, and 1 km for WACCM3 the two WACCM runs, HAMMONIA, and TIME-GCM, respectively, and the corresponding temperatures are 169 K, 170 K, 158 K, and 161 K. The model predicted summer eastward zonal wind peaks to 71 m/s at 102 km, to 48 m/s at 84 km, to 75 m/s at 93 km, and to 29 m/s at 94 km, in the same order. The altitude of the winter zonal wind reversal and seasonal asymmetry of the pole-to-pole meridional flow are also compared, and the importance of full-diurnal-cycle observations for the determination of mean states is discussed.