Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 3911–3919, 2016
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 3911–3919, 2016

Research article 23 Aug 2016

Research article | 23 Aug 2016

Simultaneous and co-located wind measurements in the middle atmosphere by lidar and rocket-borne techniques

Franz-Josef Lübken1, Gerd Baumgarten1, Jens Hildebrand1, and Francis J. Schmidlin2 Franz-Josef Lübken et al.
  • 1Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Schloss-Str. 6, Kühlungsborn, Germany
  • 2NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, Virginia, USA

Abstract. We present the first comparison of a new lidar technique to measure winds in the middle atmosphere, called DoRIS (Doppler Rayleigh Iodine Spectrometer), with a rocket-borne in situ method, which relies on measuring the horizontal drift of a target (“starute”) by a tracking radar. The launches took place from the Andøya Space Center (ASC), very close to the ALOMAR observatory (Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research) at 69° N. DoRIS is part of a steerable twin lidar system installed at ALOMAR. The observations were made simultaneously and with a horizontal distance between the two lidar beams and the starute trajectories of typically 0–40 km only. DoRIS measured winds from 14 March 2015, 17:00 UTC, to 15 March 2015, 11:30 UTC. A total of eight starute flights were launched successfully from 14 March, 19:00 UTC, to 15 March, 00:19 UTC. In general there is excellent agreement between DoRIS and the in situ measurements, considering the combined range of uncertainties. This concerns not only the general height structures of zonal and meridional winds and their temporal developments, but also some wavy structures. Considering the comparison between all starute flights and all DoRIS observations in a time period of ±20 min around each individual starute flight, we arrive at mean differences of typically ±5–10 m s−1 for both wind components. Part of the remaining differences are most likely due to the detection of different wave fronts of gravity waves. There is no systematic difference between DoRIS and the in situ observations above 30 km. Below ∼ 30 km, winds from DoRIS are systematically too large by up to 10–20 m s−1, which can be explained by the presence of aerosols. This is proven by deriving the backscatter ratios at two different wavelengths. These ratios are larger than unity, which is an indication of the presence of aerosols.

Short summary
Wind measurements in the middle atmosphere (MA) are crucial to our understanding of atmospheric processes. We have recently developed a new laser-based method to measure winds called DoRIS (Doppler Rayleigh Iodine Spectrometer) which is the only technique to monitor winds in the middle atmosphere quasi-continuously. We compare our measurements with rocket-borne measurements and find excellent agreement above 30 km. DoRIS can now be considered as a validated method to measure winds in the MA.