22 Jun 2022
22 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

The polar mesospheric cloud dataset of the Balloon Lidar Experiment BOLIDE

Natalie Kaifler1, Bernd Kaifler1, Markus Rapp1, and David C. Fritts2 Natalie Kaifler et al.
  • 1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2GATS, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. The Balloon Lidar Experiment (BOLIDE) observed polar mesospheric clouds (PMC) along the Arctic circle between Sweden and Canada during the balloon flight of PMC Turbo in July 2018. The purpose of the mission was to study small-scale dynamical processes induced by the breaking of atmospheric gravity waves by high-resolution imaging and profiling of the PMC layer. The primary measured variable of the lidar soundings is the time- and range-resolved volume backscatter coefficient β. These data are available at high resolution of 20 m and 10 s (Kaifler, 2021, This document describes how we calculate β from the BOLIDE photon count data and balloon floating altitude. We compile information relevant for the scientific exploration of this dataset, including statistics, mean values and temporal evolution of parameters like PMC brightness, altitude and occurrence rate. Special emphasis is given to the stability of the gondola pointing, and the effect of resolution on the signal-to-noise ratio and thus the detection threshold of PMC. PMC layers were detected during 49.7 h in total, accounting for 36.8 % of the 5.7 days flight duration and a total of 178924 PMC profiles at 10 s resolution. Up to the present, published results from subsets of this dataset include the evolution of small-scale vortex rings, distinct Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities and two pronounced mesospheric bores. The lidar soundings reveal a wide range of responses of the PMC layer to larger-scale gravity waves and breaking gravity waves including accompanying instabilities that await scientific analysis.

Natalie Kaifler et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-158', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Jul 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Natalie Kaifler, 17 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-158', Anonymous Referee #2, 31 Jul 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Natalie Kaifler, 17 Sep 2022

Natalie Kaifler et al.

Data sets

Polar mesospheric clouds from the Balloon Lidar Experiment (BOLIDE) during the PMC Turbo balloon mission Kaifler, Natalie

Natalie Kaifler et al.


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Short summary
We measured polar mesospheric clouds (PMC), our Earth’s highest clouds at the edge of space, with a Rayleigh lidar from a stratospheric balloon. We describe how we derive the cloud’s brightness and discuss the stability of the gondola pointing and the sensitivity of our measurements. We present our high-resolution PMC dataset that is used to study dynamical processes in the upper mesosphere, e.g. regarding gravity waves, mesospheric bores, vortex rings and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities.