Research Articles

Observations of a middle atmosphere thermal structure over Durban using a ground-based Rayleigh LIDAR and satellite data

Nkanyiso Mbatha, Venkataraman Sivakumar, Hassan Bencherif, Sandile B. Malinga, Sadhasivan R. Pillay, Ashokabose Moorgawa, Max M. Michaelis
South African Journal of Science | Vol 108, No 1/2 | a612 | DOI: | © 2012 Nkanyiso Mbatha, Venkataraman Sivakumar, Hassan Bencherif, Sandile B. Malinga, Sadhasivan R. Pillay, Ashokabose Moorgawa, Max M. Michaelis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 January 2011 | Published: 12 January 2012

About the author(s)

Nkanyiso Mbatha, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Venkataraman Sivakumar, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Hassan Bencherif, Université de La Réunion, France
Sandile B. Malinga, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Space Science, South Africa
Sadhasivan R. Pillay, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Ashokabose Moorgawa, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Max M. Michaelis, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Studying the middle atmospheric thermal structure over southern Africa is an important activity to improve the understanding of atmospheric dynamics of this region. Observations of a middle atmosphere thermal structure over Durban, South Africa (29.9°S, 31.0°E) using the Durban Rayleigh Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data collected over 277 nights from April 1999 to July 2004, including closest overpasses of the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) and Halogen Occultation Experiments (HALOE) satellites, are presented in this paper. There seems to be good agreement between the LIDAR and satellite observations. During autumn and winter, the temperatures measured by the LIDAR in the height region between 40 km and 55 km were 5 K to 12 K higher than those measured by the satellites. The data from the LIDAR instrument and the SABER and HALOE satellites exhibited the presence of an annual oscillation in the stratosphere, whereas in the mesosphere, semi-annual oscillations dominated the annual oscillation at some levels. The stratopause was observed in the height range of ~40 km – 55 km by all the instruments, with the stratopause temperatures measured as 260 K – 270 K by the LIDAR, 250 K – 260 K by the SABER and 250 K – 270 K by the HALOE. Data from the SABER and HALOE satellites indicated almost the same thermal structure for the middle atmosphere over Durban.


LIDAR; temperature; middle atmosphere; stratosphere; satellite


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