2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
LiDAR Investigation of middle and upper atmosphere temperature, composition, chemistry, and dynamics at McMurdo, Antarctica

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

Event Number: A-130-M
NSF/PLR Award 1246405

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Cara Sucher

Dr. Xinzhao Chu (Principal Investigator)
Project LinkExternal Non U.S. Government Site

University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, Colorado

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Arrival Heights

Project Description:
This project continues the operation of the Fe-Boltzmann LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) instrument installed in the Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) lab at Arrival Heights near McMurdo Station. The initial instrument installation took place during the 2010-11 summer season. Primary research objectives are to acquire vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature (30–155 kilometers), Fe (iron) density (70–155 kilometers), and polar mesospheric cloud (PMC), to study the chemistry and dynamics of the polar atmosphere and to establish the baseline temperature, Fe, PMC, and gravity wave climatologies. New science discoveries based on the observations and measurements made to date (December 2010 to March 2014) include : (1) Neutral Fe layers and gravity waves well into the thermosphere, from 155 kilometers up to 170 kilometers; (2) Elevated thermospheric temperatures between 110 and 150 kilometers, likely associated with Joule heating; (3) Explosive release of exceptionally large Fe densities between 85 and 95 kilometers during summer, likely from visible and sub-visible ice particles; (4) Significant solar effects on the Fe-layer bottom side during local sunrise and sunset; (5) Strong and nearly persistent inertial gravity waves with cross-Antarctic-continent features; (6) Super-exponential growth of temperature tidal amplitude in the lower thermosphere above 110 kilometers; and (7) Dramatic density variations (about 40 times) of Fe layers over a time scale of multiple days (7-20 days).

Field Season Overview:
The four-member team will collect lidar data in both summer and winter seasons -- only one lidar scientist will over winter. The team will refurbish and maintain the lidar system to its optimum status.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Cao Chen
  • Xinzhao Chu (PI)
  • Jian Zhao

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Curator: Ethan Norris, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Division of Polar Programs