Atomic Oxygen in the Polar Winter Mesosphere

Charles Young The University of Michigan

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Edward S. Epstein The University of Michigan

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Abstract

Kellogg's hypothesis that the winter warmth of the polar mesosphere is due to the chemical energy released by the formation of molecular oxygen from atomic oxygen is examined. Reactions involving O, O2, and O3 are considered. Computations reveal that slow rates of subsidence (∼0.2 cm sec−1) are clearly sufficient to provide the required energy at the proper heights, when considered in association with published infrared cooling rates due to CO2. The possibility that the released energy is lost to the atmospheric region of concern due to radiation in the Kaplan-Meinel or infrared atmospheric bands of O2 is considered. If collisional deactivation by an atom-atom interchange is the predominant deactivating mechanism at the level of maximum energy release, then most of the energy released will appear as sensible beat.

Abstract

Kellogg's hypothesis that the winter warmth of the polar mesosphere is due to the chemical energy released by the formation of molecular oxygen from atomic oxygen is examined. Reactions involving O, O2, and O3 are considered. Computations reveal that slow rates of subsidence (∼0.2 cm sec−1) are clearly sufficient to provide the required energy at the proper heights, when considered in association with published infrared cooling rates due to CO2. The possibility that the released energy is lost to the atmospheric region of concern due to radiation in the Kaplan-Meinel or infrared atmospheric bands of O2 is considered. If collisional deactivation by an atom-atom interchange is the predominant deactivating mechanism at the level of maximum energy release, then most of the energy released will appear as sensible beat.

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