Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Middle atmosphere temperature trend and solar cycle revealed by long-term Rayleigh lidar observations



[1] The long-term temperature profile data sets obtained by Rayleigh lidars at three different northern latitudes within the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change were used to derive the middle atmosphere temperature trend and response to the 11 year solar cycle. The lidars were located at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (MLO, 19.5°N); the Table Mountain Facility, California (TMF, 34.4°N); and the Observatoire de Haute Provence, France (OHP, 43.9°N). A stratospheric cooling trend of 2–3 K/decade was found for both TMF and OHP, and a trend of ≤0.5 ± 0.5 K/decade was found at MLO. In the mesosphere, the trend at TMF (3–4 K/decade) was much larger than that at both OHP and MLO (<1 K/decade). The lidar trends agree well with earlier satellite and rocketsonde trends in the stratosphere, but a substantial discrepancy was found in the mesosphere. The cooling trend in the upper stratosphere at OHP during 1981–1994 (∼2–3 K/decade) was much larger than that during 1995–2009 (≤0.8 K/decade), coincident with the slightly increasing upper stratospheric ozone density after 1995. Significant temperature response to the 11 year solar cycle was found. The correlation was positive in both the stratosphere and mesosphere at MLO and TMF. At OHP a wintertime negative response in the upper stratosphere and a positive response in the middle mesosphere were observed during 1981–1994, but the opposite behavior was found during 1995–2009. This behavior may not be a direct solar cycle response at all but is likely related to an apparent response to decadal variability (e.g., volcanoes, modulated random occurrence of sudden stratospheric warmings) that is more complex.