Date of Award

Spring 2005

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Space Science


Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. John J. Olivero

Committee Member

Dr. Irfan Azeem

Committee Member

Dr. M. P. Hickey


In this paper, the Solar Backscatter UV spectrometer (SBUV) Polar Mesospheric Cloud (PMC) dataset was investigated for planetary wave activity following the earlier study by Merkel [2002]. To counter the sparse nature of the data, four separate methods of analysis are used in determining if planetary waves are present and how they effect PMC formation. The four methods are histograms (both in frequency of occurrence and mean albedo), periodograms using the Lomb-Scargle method, frequency-wavenumber analysis using a 2D Lomb-Scargle method from Wu et. al [1995], and a temporal (yearly) analysis of the 5, 6.5, and 10 day wave amplitudes. The general result is a strong presence of the 5-day wave in PMC, which agrees with Merkel [2002] who used data extracted from the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) to observe the 5 day wave in PMC. Other period waves were also observed including the 2, 6.5, 10, and 16 day waves - although these waves were not as strong or persistent as the 5 day. Similar to past research, the 2-day wave was observed to be stronger and more frequent in the southern hemisphere. Long term trends in the amplitudes of the 5, 6.5, and 10 day waves showed a quazi two year oscillation that is possibly modulated by the 11 year solar cycle - seen as an increase in period during solar max. The results indicated that planetary wave activity influences both the frequency of occurrence and brightness of PMC through vertical and horizontal transport of water vapor into the summer polar mesopause and dynamically forced small scale temperature fluctuations. This result is concluded from coupling past research observing planetary waves in vertical and horizontal winds, water vapor, and temperature fluctuations.