The Mesospheric Refrigerator

Jonathan Friedman
Senior Research Associate

The coldest place on earth is at the top of the mesosphere, AKA the mesopause. This generally exists at one of two altitudes, depending on latitude and season, near 100 km or near 85 km. On an annual average, the 100 km mesopause altitude is observed over 83% of the planet. What is most interesting about this is that the 17% at 85 km has two seemingly contradictory qualities. That it occurs in summer at mid- and high-latitudes, and that it is at this altitude and season where the COLDEST temperatures on the planet are recorded. I will present a hand-waving explanation of this phenomenon, that will introduce concepts of atmospheric circulation from the ground to the mesopause as well as gravity waves, which are the drivers of the circulation that produces the refrigerator effect.

Workshop Schedule

Workshop Home

Last modified: Mon Dec 15 11:37:26 EST 2008 by becky