Spatio-temporal variability of the polar middle atmosphere. Insights from over 30 years of research satellite observations.
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We discuss the insights that research satellite observations from the last 30 years have provided on the spatio-temporal variability of the polar middle atmosphere. Starting from the time of the NASA LIMS (Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere) and TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) instruments, both launched in 1978, we show how these observations have augmented our knowledge of the polar middle atmosphere, in particular how information on ozone and tracers has augmented our knowledge of: (i) the spatial and temporal characteristics of the wintertime polar stratosphere and the summertime circulation; and (ii) the roles of chemistry and transport in determining the stratospheric ozone distribution. We address the increasing joint use of observations and models, in particular in data assimilation, in contributing to this understanding. Finally, we outline requirements to allow continuation of the wealth of information on the polar middle atmosphere provided by research satellites over the last 30 years.