On the onset of polar mesospheric cloud seasons as observed by SBUV



[1] This paper describes an investigation using data from the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) satellite instruments to explore and understand variations in the timing of the onset of Polar Mesospheric Cloud (PMC) seasons. Previous work has shown that for several recent southern hemisphere (SH) seasons, the PMC season onset was controlled by the timing of the shift from winter to summer zonal wind flow in the SH stratosphere. We extend the analysis of PMC season onset to 28 years of SBUV observations, including both hemispheres. A multiple linear regression analysis of SBUV data from 1984 to 2011 suggests that the SH PMC season onset is delayed by one day for every day that the zonal wind at 65°S and 50 hPa (∼20 km) remains in a winter-like state. In addition, we find that the solar cycle plays a role: The SH season onset is delayed by about ten days at solar maximum compared to solar minimum. In the NH, the PMC season onset is delayed by ∼7 days at solar maximum compared to solar minimum; variations in the NH stratospheric wind, however, are not correlated with the NH onset date. On the other hand, inter-hemispheric teleconnections are important in the NH; a one-day shift in the NH season onset corresponds to a shift of ∼1.4 m/s in the SH stratospheric wind at 60.0°S and 20 hPa (∼26 km). Neither the NH nor the SH season onset date is correlated with the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Arctic Oscillation, or El Niño Southern Oscillation.