Validation of upper mesospheric and lower thermospheric temperatures measured by the Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment

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Abstract

[1] Temperature observations in the polar mesosphere and lower thermosphere are critical for studies of polar mesospheric cloud (PMC) formation and variability. The Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment (SOFIE) on NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite has been measuring temperatures in the polar atmosphere nearly continuously since 2007. We herein present an improved SOFIE temperature data set and validate it against a variety of satellite and ground-based observations. We find that when taking all comparisons together, SOFIE temperatures are in agreement with independent observations to within reported systematic uncertainties from 15 to 88 km altitude. Between 88 and 95 km SOFIE temperatures have a warm bias that peaks between 10 and 15 K in the Arctic summer and 20–30 K in the Antarctic summer. Much of the warm bias is likely related to uncertainties in prescribed atomic oxygen densities that are required for the SOFIE temperature retrieval.

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