Solar Cycle and Long-Term Trends in the Observed Peak of the Meteor Altitude Distributions by Meteor Radars

E. C.M. Dawkins, G. Stober, D. Janches, J. D. Carrillo-Sánchez, R. S. Lieberman, C. Jacobi, T. Moffat-Griffin, N. J. Mitchell, N. Cobbett, P. P. Batista, V. F. Andrioli, R. A. Buriti, D. J. Murphy, J. Kero, N. Gulbrandsen, M. Tsutsumi, A. Kozlovsky, J. H. Kim, C. Lee, M. Lester

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7 Citations (SciVal)


The mesosphere/lower thermosphere (MLT, 80–100 km) region is an important boundary between Earth's atmosphere below and space above and may act as a sensitive indicator for anthropogenic climate change. Existing observational and modeling studies have shown the middle atmosphere and the MLT is cooling and contracting because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, trend analyses are highly sensitive to the time periods covered, their length, and the measurement type and methodology used. We present for the first time the linear and 11-year solar cycle responses in the meteor ablation altitude distributions observed by 12 meteor radars at different locations. Decreasing altitudes were seen at all latitudes (linear trends varying from −10.97 to −817.95 m dec−1), and a positive correlation with solar activity was seen for most locations. The divergence of responses at high latitudes indicates an important and complex interplay between atmospheric changes and dynamics at varying time scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL101953
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ED, DJ, JDCS, and RSL are supported through the NASA ISFM programs for Heliophysics. GS is a member of the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research. J‐HK and CL were supported by a Korea Polar Research Institute Grant (KOPRI PE22020) from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. CJ acknowledges support by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Grant JA836/43‐1. ML acknowledges support from UK Science and Technology Facilities Council Grant ST/W00089X/1. TdF operation is supported by NESC assessment TI‐17‐01204. ROT and KEP radars were funded through UK Natural Environment Research Council Grants NE/R001391 and NE/R001235/1. CPa, SMa and CAR meteor radars were funded through São Paulo State Research Support Foundation and Brazilian National Research Conseil. DAV operation was supported by Australian Antarctic Science projects 2668, 4025, and 4445. Operation of KIR is provided by the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) Esrange Space Center.

Data Availability Statement
The processed data comprising Figures 2 and 3 (and those listed in Table S2 in Supporting Information S1) are made available at


  • altitude
  • climate change
  • mesopause
  • mesosphere
  • meteor
  • meteor radar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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