2015-2016 USAP Field Season
LiDAR investigation of middle and upper atmosphere temperature, composition, chemistry, and dynamics at McMurdo, Antarctica
Dr. Xinzhao Chu
University of Colorado Boulder
Project Web Site:
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
This project continues the operation of the Fe Boltzmann LiDAR instrument installed in the Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) lab at Arrival Heights. 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 2017) include: (1) Neutral Fe layers and gravity waves well into the thermosphere, up to 180 km; (2) Elevated thermospheric temperatures between 110 and 150 kilometers, likely associated with aurora-enhanced 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) Persistent, dominant, and large-amplitude inertial gravity waves all-year-round with cross-Antarctic-continent features; (6) Super-exponential growth of temperature tidal amplitude in the lower thermosphere above 110 kilometers; (7) Dramatic density variations (about 40 times) of Fe layers over a time scale of multiple days (7-20 days); 8) Planetary waves with periods of 1?5 days in the stratosphere, mesosphere and lower thermosphere; 9) Seasonal variations of gravity wave period, vertical wavelength, and potential energy density in the stratosphere; and 10) A thermosphere-ionosphere Fe/Fe+ (TIFe) model has been established for exploring the TIFe layers. In particular, the thermospheric observations of Fe layers and neutral temperatures up to 180 km have opened a new door to observing the neutral polar thermosphere with ground?based instruments.
Field Season Overview
The four-member team will collect LiDAR data in both summer and winter seasons; only one LiDAR scientist will winter over. The team will refurbish and maintain the LiDAR system to its optimum status.
Deploying Team Members