2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 99-09743
Station: McMurdo and South Pole Stations
RPSC POC: Curt LaBombard
Research Site(s): Arrival Heights, South Pole Station

High-latitude Antarctic neutral mesospheric and thermospheric dynamics and thermodynamics
Dr. Gonzalo Hernandez
University of Washington
Department of Earth and Space Sciences

Deploying Team Members: Stephen T Barlow . Gonzalo Hernandez . Michael P Mc Carthy . Bryan J Venema . Ruth T Wilton-Godbefforde
Research Objectives: The South Pole is a unique and interesting spot from which to observe the dynamic motion of the atmosphere. It's position on the earth's axis of rotation strongly restricts the types of wave motion that can occur there compared to lower latitude sites.

This project uses a high-resolution Fabry-Perot interferometer at South Pole Station to make simultaneous azimuthal observations of the individual line spectra of several upper atmospheric trace species, most importantly the hydroxyl radical (OH) and atomic oxygen. The observed Doppler shift of the emission lines provides a direct measure of the line-of-sight wind speed, while the wind field structure can also be derived from these multi-azimuth measurements. The simultaneously observed line widths also provide a direct measurement of kinetic temperature.

The goal of this project is to observe, characterize and understand high-latitude mesospheric motions and thermospheric persistent vertical winds near Arrival Heights simultaneously with those at South Pole. In both locations, observations are made during the austral winter.

Field Season Overview:
Project team members will perform routine service on the FPI (Fabry-Perot interferometer) and ancillary equipment at McMurdo's Arrival Heights facility. A LIDAR (light radar) installed last season at McMurdo Station will also be serviced this season. Researchers plan to do most of their calibration and maintenance at Arrival Heights, then proceed to the South Pole.

The same team members will perform maintenance tasks on the system in South Pole Station's Aurora Lab. Upon return to McMurdo Station, the researchers will conduct any further maintenance needed at Arrival Heights.

During the rest of the year, station technicians operate the instruments, which are in self-calibration mode during the austral summer and in 24-hour data-acquisition mode during the austral winter.