Middle atmospheric water vapour and dynamics in the vicinity of the polar vortex during the Hygrosonde-2 campaign
1Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
2Swedish Institute of Space Physics, 98128 Kiruna, Sweden
3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA 23681, USA
4Physikalisches Institut der Universität Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Abstract. The Hygrosonde-2 campaign took place on 16 December 2001 at Esrange/Sweden, with the aim to investigate the small scale distribution of water vapour in the middle atmosphere in the vicinity of the Arctic polar vortex. In-situ balloon and rocket-borne measurements of water vapour were performed by means of OH fluorescence hygrometry. The combined measurements yielded a high resolution water vapour profile up to an altitude of 75 km. Using water vapour as a dynamical tracer it was possible to directly relate the water data to the position of the polar vortex. The measurement probed extra-vortex air below 19 km and in the altitude range between 45 km and 60 km and vortex air elsewhere. Transitions between vortex and extra-vortex usually coincided with wind shears caused by gravity waves which advect air masses with different water vapour characteristics. From the combination of the results from the Hygrosonde-2 campaign and the first flight of the optical hygrometer in 1994 (Hygrosonde-1) a clear picture of the characteristic water vapour distribution inside and outside the polar vortex can be drawn. Systematic differences in the water vapour concentration between the inside and outside of the polar vortex can be observed all the way up into the mesosphere and are consistent with efficient downward transport of air inside the vortex. It is evident that in-situ measurements with high spatial resolution are needed to fully account for the small-scale exchange processes in the polar winter middle atmosphere.