Articles | Volume 9, issue 7
Research article
12 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 12 Jul 2016

Effects of polar stratospheric clouds in the Nimbus 7 LIMS Version 6 data set

Ellis Remsberg and V. Lynn Harvey

Abstract. The historic Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) measurements of 1978–1979 from the Nimbus 7 satellite were re-processed with Version 6 (V6) algorithms and archived in 2002. The V6 data set employs updated radiance registration methods, improved spectroscopic line parameters, and a common vertical resolution for all retrieved parameters. Retrieved profiles are spaced about every 1.6° of latitude along orbits and include the additional parameter of geopotential height. Profiles of O3 are sensitive to perturbations from emissions of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). This work presents results of implementing a first-order screening for effects of PSCs using simple algorithms based on vertical gradients of the O3 mixing ratio. Their occurrences are compared with the co-located, retrieved temperatures and related to the temperature thresholds needed for saturation of H2O and/or HNO3 vapor onto PSC particles. Observed daily locations where the major PSC screening criteria are satisfied are validated against PSCs observed with the Stratospheric Aerosol Monitor (SAM) II experiment also on Nimbus 7. Remnants of emissions from PSCs are characterized for O3 and HNO3 following the screening. PSCs may also impart a warm bias in the co-located LIMS temperatures, but by no more than 1–2 K at the altitudes of where effects of PSCs are a maximum in the ozone; thus, no PSC screening was applied to the V6 temperatures. Minimum temperatures vary between 187 and 194 K and often occur 1 to 2 km above where PSC effects are first identified in the ozone (most often between about 21 and 28 hPa). Those temperature–pressure values are consistent with conditions for the existence of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT) mixtures and to a lesser extent of super-cooled ternary solution (STS) droplets. A local, temporary uptake of HNO3 vapor of order 1–3 ppbv is indicated during mid-January for the 550 K surface. Seven-month time series of the distributions of LIMS O3 and HNO3 are shown based on their gridded Level 3 data following the PSC screening. Zonal coefficients of both species are essentially free of effects from PSCs on the 550 K surface, based on their average values along PV contours and in terms of equivalent latitude. Remnants of PSCs are still present in O3 on the 450 K surface during mid-January. It is judged that the LIMS Level 3 data are of good quality for analyzing the larger-scale, stratospheric chemistry and transport processes during the Arctic winter of 1978–1979.

Short summary
Emissions from polar stratospheric cloud (PSC) particles affect the retrieved ozone and water vapor from the Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) satellite experiment. Threshold criteria are applied to the retrieved ozone for the detection and screening of those effects. The PSC effects correlate very well with regions of coldest temperatures (< 194 K) within the polar vortex. Retrieved nitric acid vapor is affected much less, and there is evidence of its uptake in regions of PSCs.