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Journal Article

Impact of molecular diffusion on the CO2 distribution and the temperature in the mesosphere


Brasseur,  Guy P.       
The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Chabrillat, S., Kockarts, G., Fonteyn, D., & Brasseur, G. P. (2002). Impact of molecular diffusion on the CO2 distribution and the temperature in the mesosphere. Geophysical Research Letters, 29: 1729. doi:10.1029/2002GL015309.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-0258-2
Modelling the energy budget in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere requires a precise evaluation of CO2 distribution in this region. This distribution is primarily determined by competition between vertical eddy diffusion and molecular diffusion. A simple algorithm is proposed to take into account both processes, at all altitudes. Using the SOCRATES bi- dimensional model of the middle atmosphere, we show that molecular diffusion has a direct impact on CO2 vertical distribution down to approximately 80 km altitude, i.e. well into the mesosphere and below the turbopause altitude. A sensitivity study with regard to different aeronomical processes shows that molecular diffusion has the deepest influence in the mesospheric polar night region. Our model shows that molecular diffusion of CO2 is responsible for a polar night mesopause 12 K warmer than if this process was neglected. Hence, dynamical models should take this process in account across the whole mesospheric altitude range.