Observed seasonal to decadal scale responses in mesospheric water vapor



[1] The 14 year (1991–2005) time series of mesospheric water vapor from the Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) are analyzed using multiple linear regression (MLR) techniques for their seasonal and longer-period terms from 45°S to 45°N. The distribution of annual average water vapor shows a decrease from a maximum of 6.5 ppmv at 0.2 hPa to about 3.2 ppmv at 0.01 hPa, in accord with the effects of the photolysis of water vapor due to the Lyman-α flux. The distribution of the semiannual cycle amplitudes is nearly hemispherically symmetric at the low latitudes, while that of the annual cycles shows larger amplitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The diagnosed 11 year, or solar cycle, max minus min, water vapor values are of the order of several percent at 0.2 hPa to about 23% at 0.01 hPa. The solar cycle terms have larger values in the Northern than in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the middle mesosphere, and the associated linear trend terms are anomalously large in the same region. Those anomalies are due, at least in part, to the fact that the amplitudes of the seasonal cycles were varying at northern midlatitudes during 1991–2005, while the corresponding seasonal terms of the MLR model do not allow for that possibility. Although the 11 year variation in water vapor is essentially hemispherically symmetric and antiphased with the solar cycle flux near 0.01 hPa, the concurrent temperature variations produce slightly colder conditions at the northern high latitudes at solar minimum. It is concluded that this temperature difference is most likely the reason for the greater occurrence of polar mesospheric clouds at the northern versus the southern high latitudes at solar minimum during the HALOE time period.