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Atmospheric Turbulencea molecular dynamics perspective$
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Adrian F. Tuck

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199236534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199236534.001.0001

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Temperature Intermittency and Ozone Photodissociation

Temperature Intermittency and Ozone Photodissociation

5 Temperature Intermittency and Ozone Photodissociation
Atmospheric Turbulence

Adrian F. Tuck

Oxford University Press

During the last two missions performed by the ER-2 in the Arctic lower stratosphere, POLARIS in the summer of 1997 and SOLVE during the winter of 1999–2000, an unexpected correlation emerged when the data were subjected to analysis by generalized scale invariance. It was between the intermittency of temperature, a number which can be determined for each segment of analysable flight from the temperature measurements, and the average over the flight segment of the photodissociation rate of ozone, which was calculable as a time series along the flight segment by taking the product of the 1Hz measurements of the local ozone concentration and the 1Hz measurements of the ozone photodissociation coefficient. In searching for a physical explanation of this correlation, it was realized that the common link between the quantities was that ozone photodissociation produces photofragments of atomic and molecular oxygen that recoil very fast, while temperature itself is the integral of the translational energy of all air molecules. The next step therefore was to ask if the intermittency of temperature was correlated with the average of the temperature itself over the flight segment: it was. One might think that because ozone is present at about 20km altitude in mixing ratios of about 2−3×10−6, the rapid quenching of the translational energies of the recoiling photofragments by molecular nitrogen and molecular oxygen would prevent any possible effects from showing up in the bulk, observed temperature. However, during the POLARIS mission, it was possible to fly the ER-2 near the terminator, the boundary between day and night, because at Arctic latitudes the planet was rotating slowly enough that it could fly legs in the same, stagnant air mass in both sunlight and darkness. These flights showed that the heating rate was significant, about 0.2Kper hour, and since heating in the stratosphere arises from the absorption of solar radiation by ozone, which leads to photodissociation, there is a prima facie case for considering non-local thermodynamic equilibrium effects from the recoiling fast photofragments. Two arguments may be deployed at this point, both from the theoretical literature; there are as yet no experiments on the translational speed distributions of atmospheric molecules.

Keywords:   Maxwell–Boltzmann speed distribution, Meteorological Measuring System (MMS) data, energy cascades, positive feedback, race-track flight data, radiative heating observations

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