Structure and Dynamics

Part of the Atmospheric Sciences Library book series (volume 5)


The distributions of most chemical species in the middle atmosphere result from the influences of both dynamical and chemical processes. In particular, when the rates of formation and destruction of a chemical species are comparable to the rate at which it is transported by physical processes, then transport can play a major role in determining the constituent distribution (a detailed discussion of these concepts is provided in §3.4). This transport can be produced both by the prevailing winds (also called advection) and by turbulent mixing (diffusion). These will each be discussed in more detail below. In turn, the distributions of certain photochemical species, particularly ozone, can influence the radiative budget, affecting temperatures and the dynamic flow patterns. Therefore the study of aeronomy intersects greatly with those of fluid dynamics and meteorology. If we wish to understand why photochemical species behave as observed, certain concepts from these disciplines must be explored. In this chapter, the general structure of the middle atmosphere will be discussed, and then the transport processes of the stratosphere and mesosphere will be described. In our description of atmospheric motions, we have not sought to provide even a partial account of the dynamic meteorology of the middle atmosphere. The reader is referred to the monograph by Holton (1975) for a detailed treatment of observations and theory.


Gravity Wave Zonal Wind Potential Vorticity Planetary Wave Meridional Circulation 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut d’Aéronomie Spatiale and Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Aeronomy LaboratoryNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationBoulderUSA

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