Temporal variations of atomic oxygen in the upper mesosphere from SABER



[1] One of the atmospheric constituents that can be retrieved from observations by the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument on the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite is atomic oxygen in the upper mesosphere. Atomic oxygen can be determined during both day and night using two different techniques that both rely on ozone chemistry. The O concentrations retrieved from SABER data are higher by a factor of 2–5 compared to concentrations determined from other measurements and techniques and compiled in current empirical models. This paper presents variability of atomic oxygen with a focus on the diurnal cycle in low latitudes and the seasonal cycle of daily mean atomic oxygen globally. The results show a large diurnal variation, ranging from a factor of 2 to more than a factor of 10, of atomic oxygen near the equator. The relative magnitude varies with season (larger near the equinoxes) and with altitude (largest near 85 km). Vertical transport by the migrating diurnal tide explains the observed variation. The semiannual variation in tidal amplitude affects the seasonal variation of daily average atomic oxygen, which likely indicates that there is irreversible transport by the tides. At high latitudes, the atomic oxygen variation is characterized by wintertime maxima over the altitude range 80–95 km and summertime maxima above. The wintertime peaks are associated with the downwelling from the mean circulation and are particularly strong in late winter of 2004, 2006, and 2009, responding to the unusual dynamical situations in those years.