1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/École Polytechnique, CNRS/INSU, UMR8539, Palaiseau-Cedex, 91128, France
2The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, 20064, USA
3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA
4Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523, USA
5National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, 80307, CO, USA
Abstract. Among the processes governing the energy balance in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT), the quenching of CO2(ν2) vibrational levels by collisions with O atoms plays an important role. However, there is a factor of 3–4 discrepancy between the laboratory measurements of the CO2-O quenching rate coefficient, kVT, and its value estimated from the atmospheric observations. In this study, we retrieve kVT in the altitude region 85–105 km from the coincident SABER/TIMED and Fort Collins sodium lidar observations by minimizing the difference between measured and simulated broadband limb 15 μm radiation. The averaged kVT value obtained in this work is 6.5 ± 1.5 × 10−12 cm3 s−1 that is close to other estimates of this coefficient from the atmospheric observations. However, the retrieved kVT also shows altitude dependence and varies from 5.5 ± 1.1 × 10−12 cm3 s−1 at 90 km to 7.9 ± 1.2 × 10−12 cm3 s−1 at 105 km. Obtained results demonstrate the deficiency in current non-LTE modeling of the atmospheric 15 μm radiation, based on the application of the CO2-O quenching and excitation rates, which are linked by the detailed balance relation. We discuss the possible model improvements, among them accounting for the interaction of the "non-thermal" oxygen atoms with CO2 molecules.