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Observation of horizontal winds in the middle-atmosphere between 30° S and 55° N during the northern winter 2009–2010
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2012 (English)In: Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics, ISSN 1680-7316, E-ISSN 1680-7324, Vol. 13, 6049-6064 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although the links between stratospheric dynamics, climate and weather have been demonstrated, direct observations of stratospheric winds are lacking. We report observations of winds between 8 and 0.01 hPa (~35–80 km) from October 2009 to April 2010 by the Superconducting Submillimeter-Wave Limb-Emission Sounder (SMILES) on the International Space Station. The altitude range covers the region between 35–60 km where previous space-borne wind instruments show a lack of sensitivity. Both zonal and meridional wind components were obtained, though not simultaneously, in the latitude range from 30° S to 55° N and with a single profile precision of 7–9 m s−1 between 8 and 0.6 hPa and better than 20 m s−1 at altitudes above. The vertical resolution is 5–7 km except in the upper part of the retrieval range (10 km at 0.01 hPa). In the region between 1–0.05 hPa, a mean difference <2 m s−1 is found between SMILES profiles retrieved from different spectroscopic lines and instrumental settings. Good agreement (mean difference of ~2 m s−1) is also found with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analysis in most of the stratosphere except for the zonal winds over the equator (mean difference of 5–10 m s−1). In the mesosphere, SMILES and ECMWF zonal winds exhibit large differences (> 20 m s−1), especially in the tropics. We illustrate our results by showing daily and monthly zonal wind variations, namely the semi-annual oscillation in the tropics and reversals of the flow direction between 50° N–55° N during sudden stratospheric warmings in the stratosphere. The daily comparison with ECMWF winds reveals that in the beginning of February, a significantly stronger zonal westward flow is measured in the tropics at 2 hPa compared to the flow computed in the analysis (difference of ~20 m s−1). The results show that the comparison between SMILES and ECMWF winds is not only relevant for the quality assessment of the new SMILES winds but it also provides insights on the quality of the ECMWF winds themselves. Although the instrument was not specifically designed for measuring winds, the results demonstrate that space-borne sub-mm wave radiometers have the potential to provide good quality data for improving the stratospheric winds in atmospheric models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 13, 6049-6064 p.
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research subject
Atmospheric Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85266DOI: 10.5194/acp-13-6049-2013ISI: 000321766300013OAI: diva2:583260
Available from: 2013-01-07 Created: 2013-01-07 Last updated: 2013-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Khosrawi, Farahnaz
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Department of Meteorology
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