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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: regular paper 20 Aug 2019

Submitted as: regular paper | 20 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Annales Geophysicae (ANGEO).

Stratospheric observations of noctilucent clouds: a new approach in studying large-scale mesospheric dynamics

Peter Dalin1,2, Nikolay Pertsev3, Vladimir Perminov3, Denis Efremov4,5, and Vitaly Romejko6 Peter Dalin et al.
  • 1Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 812, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden
  • 2Space Research Institute, RAS, Profsouznaya st. 84/32, Moscow, 117997, Russia
  • 3A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics, RAS, Pyzhevskiy per. 3, Moscow, 119017, Russia
  • 4Aerospace laboratory “Stratonautica”, Moscow, Russia
  • 5Faculty of Cosmic Research, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, GSP-1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia
  • 6The Moscow Association for NLC Research, Kosygina st. 17, Moscow, 119334, Russia

Abstract. The experimental campaign Stratospheric Observations of Noctilucent Clouds (SONC) was conducted on the night of 5–6 July 2018 with the aim of photographing noctilucent clouds (NLC) and studying their large-scale spatial dynamics at scales of 100–1450 km. An automated high-resolution camera (equipped with a wide-angle lens) was lifted by a stratospheric sounding balloon to 20.4 km altitude above the Moscow region in Russia (~ 56° N; 41° E), taking several hundreds of NLC images during the flight that lasted 1.7 hours. The combination of a high-resolution camera and large geographic coverage (~ 1500 km) have provided a unique technique of NLC observations from the stratosphere, which is impossible to currently achieve either from the ground or space. We have estimated that a horizontal extension of the NLC field as seen from the balloon was about 1450 × 750 km whereas it was about 800 × 550 km as seen from the ground. The NLC field was located in a cold area of the mesopause (136–146 K), which is confirmed by satellite measurements. The southmost edge of the NLC field was modulated by partial ice voids of 150–250 km in diameter. A medium-scale gravity wave had a wavelength of 49.4 ± 2.2 km with vertical amplitude of 1.9 ± 0.1 km. The final state of the NLC evolution was represented by thin parallel gravity wave stripes. Balloon-borne observations provide new horizons in studies of NLC at various distances from metres to thousands of km.

Peter Dalin et al.
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Peter Dalin et al.
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Short summary
An unique stratospheric balloon-borne observation of noctilucent clouds (NLC) was performed on the night of 5–6 July 2018. A sounding balloon, carrying the NLC camera, reached 20.4 km altitude. NLC were observed from the stratosphere at large scales (100–1500 km) for the first time. Propagations of gravity waves of various scales have been registered. This experiment is rather simple and can be reproduced by broad geoscience community and amateurs, providing a new technique in NLC observations.
An unique stratospheric balloon-borne observation of noctilucent clouds (NLC) was performed on...