21 Apr 2023
 | 21 Apr 2023

Opinion: Recent Developments and Future Directions in Studying the Chemistry of the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere

John M. C. Plane, Jörg Gumbel, Konstantinos S. Kalogerakis, Daniel R. Marsh, and Christian von Savigny

Abstract. This Opinion article begins with a review of important advances in the science of the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (MLT) region of the atmosphere that have occurred over the past two decades since the founding of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The emphasis is on chemistry (although, of course, this cannot be decoupled from discussion of atmospheric physics and dynamics), and the primary focus is on work during the past 10 years. Topics that are covered include: observations (satellite, rocket and ground-based techniques); the variability and connectedness of the MLT on various length- and time-scales; airglow emissions; the cosmic dust input and meteoric metal layers; and noctilucent (or polar mesospheric) ice clouds. The paper then concludes with a discussion of important unanswered questions and likely future directions for the field over the next decade.

John M. C. Plane 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 egusphere-2023-680', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-680', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Jun 2023

John M. C. Plane et al.

John M. C. Plane et al.


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Short summary
The mesosphere/lower thermosphere region of the atmosphere borders the edge of space. It is subject to extreme ultra-violet photons and charged particles from the sun, as well as atmospheric gravity waves from below which tend to break in this region. The pressure is very low, which facilitates chemistry involving species in excited states, and this is also the region where cosmic dust ablates, injecting various metals. The result is a unique and exotic chemistry.