Mesospheric winds measured by MF radar with full correlation analysis: error properties and impacts on studies of wind variance
The mesosphere is one of the most difficult parts of the atmosphere to sample; it is too high for balloon measurements and too low for in situ satellites. Consequently, there is a reliance on remote sensing (either from the ground or from space) to diagnose this region. Ground-based radars have been used since the second half of the 20th century to probe the dynamics of the mesosphere; medium-frequency (MF) radars provide estimates of the horizontal wind fields and are still used to analyse tidal structures and planetary waves that modulate the meridional and zonal winds. The variance of the winds has traditionally been linked qualitatively to the occurrence of gravity waves. In this paper, the method of wind retrieval (full correlation analysis) employed by MF radars is considered with reference to two systems in Antarctica at different latitude (Halley at 76∘ S and Rothera at 67∘ S). It is shown that the width of the velocity distribution and occurrence of “outliers” is related to the measured levels of anisotropy in the received signal pattern. The magnitude of the error distribution, as represented by the wind variance, varies with both insolation levels and geomagnetic activity. Thus, it is demonstrated that for these two radars the influence of gravity waves may not be the primary mechanism that controls the overall variance.
Authors: Gibbins, Maude, Kavanagh, Andrew ORCID record for Andrew Kavanagh