Dynamics of the Stratosphere, Mesosphere and Thermosphere

  • David Sandford

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis presents observations of the dynamical features of the stratosphere, mesosphere and lower thermosphere. These are made from various observational techniques and model comparisons. A focus of the work is the two-day wave at high latitudes in the MLT region. This has revealed significant wave amplitudes in both summer and winter. However, these waves are shown to have very different origins. Using satellite data, the summertime wave is found to be the classic quasi-two-day wave which maximises at mid-latitudes in the MLT region. The wintertime wave is found to be a mesospheric manifestation of an eastward-propagating wave originating in the stratosphere and likely generated by barotropic and baroclinic instabilities in the polar night jet. The horizontal winds from Meteor and MF radars have been used to measure and produce climatologies of the Lunar M2 tide at Esrange in the Arctic (68°N), Rothera and Davis in the Antarctic (68°S), Castle Eaton at mid-latitude (52°N) and Ascension Island at Equatorial latitudes (8°S). These observations present the longest period of lunar semi-diurnal tidal observations in the MLT region to date, with a 16-year dataset from the UK meteor radar. Comparisons with the Vial and Forbes (1994) lunar tidal model are also made which reveal generally good agreement. Non-migrating lunar tides have been investigated. This uses lunar tidal results from equatorial stations, including the Ascension Island (8°S) meteor radar. Also lunar tidal results from the Rothera meteor wind radar (68°S, 68°W) and the Davis MF radar (68°S, 78°E) are considered. Both of these stations are on the edge of the Antarctic continent. It is demonstrated that there are often consistent tidal phase offsets between similar latitude stations. This suggests that non-migrating modes are likely to be present in the lunar semi-diurnal tidal structure and have significant amplitudes.
Date of Award1 Sept 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorNicholas Mitchell (Supervisor)


  • lunar tides
  • dynamics
  • microwave limb sounder
  • quasi-two-day wave
  • planetary waves
  • meteor radar
  • Atmosphere

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