OH* imager response to turbulence-induced temperature fluctuations

Chester S. Gardner, Fabio A. Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The layer of the excited state hydroxyl radical (OH*) is formed in the mesopause region by the reaction of ozone (O3) and atomic hydrogen (H). We derive the theoretical expressions for the OH* brightness and rotational temperature (T*) responses to high-frequency atmospheric temperature perturbations. The theory is used to calculate the 1-D and 2-D horizontal wave number spectra of the OH* and T* image fluctuations induced by atmospheric turbulence. By applying the theory to images of a breaking gravity wave packet, acquired by the Utah State University Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper, we show that existing infrared OH* imager technology can observe the evolution of gravity wave breakdown and characterize the resulting turbulent eddies in the source region and in the inertial subrange of the turbulence spectrum. For the example presented here, the RMS OH* brightness fluctuations induced by the gravity wave packet was 2.90% and by the associated turbulence was 1.07%. Unfortunately, the T* fluctuations induced by turbulence are usually too small to be observed in the OH* rotational temperature maps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13,919-13,935
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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