Water vapor measurements at ALOMAR over a solar cycle compared with model calculations by LIMA

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Abstract

[1] Microwave water vapor measurements between 40 and 80 km altitude over a solar cycle (1996–2006) were carried out in high latitudes at Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research (ALOMAR) (69.29°N, 16.03°E), Norway. Some smaller gaps and three interruptions of monitoring in the winters 1996/1997 and 2005/2006 and from spring 2001 to spring 2002 occurred during this period. The observations show a distinct year-to-year variability not directly related to solar Lyman-α radiation. In winter the water vapor mixing ratios in the upper domain were anticorrelated to the solar activity, whereas in summer, minima occurred in the years after the solar maximum in 2000/2001. In winter, sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) modulated the water vapor mixing ratios. Within the stratopause region a middle atmospheric water vapor maximum was observed, which results from the methane oxidation and is a regular feature there. The altitude of the maximum increased by approximately 5 km as summer approached. The largest mixing ratios were monitored in autumn. During the summer season a secondary water vapor maximum also occurred above 65 km most pronounced in late summer. The solar Lyman-α radiation impacts the water vapor mixing ratio particularly in winter above 65 km. In summer the correlation is positive below 70 km. The correlation is also positive in the lower mesosphere/stratopause region in winter due to the action of sudden stratospheric warmings, which occur more frequently under the condition of high solar activity and the enhancing the humidity. A strong day-to-day variability connected with planetary wave activity was found throughout the entire year. Model calculations by means of Leibniz-Institute Middle Atmosphere model (LIMA) reflect the essential patterns of the water vapor variation, but the results also show differences from the observations, indicating that exchange processes between the troposphere and stratosphere not modeled by LIMA could have influenced the long-term variability. We show results of measurements, compare these with calculations, and discuss the chemical and dynamical backgrounds of the variation of water vapor in the middle atmosphere.

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