Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
19 Apr 2010
 | 19 Apr 2010

Tracer measurements in the tropical tropopause layer during the AMMA/SCOUT-O3 aircraft campaign

C. D. Homan, C. M. Volk, A. C. Kuhn, A. Werner, J. Baehr, S. Viciani, A. Ulanovski, and F. Ravegnani

Abstract. We present airborne in situ measurements made during the AMMA (African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis)/SCOUT-O3 campaign between 31 July and 17 August 2006 on board the M55 Geophysica aircraft, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. CO2 and N2O were measured with the High Altitude Gas Analyzer (HAGAR), CO was measured with the Cryogenically Operated Laser Diode (COLD) instrument, and O3 with the Fast Ozone ANalyzer (FOZAN).

We analyse the data obtained during five local flights to study the dominant transport processes controlling the tropical tropopause layer (TTL, here ~350–375 K) and lower stratosphere above West-Africa: deep convection up to the level of main convective outflow, overshooting of deep convection, and horizontal inmixing across the subtropical tropopause. Besides, we examine the morphology of the stratospheric subtropical barrier.

Except for the flight of 13 August, distinct minima in CO2 mixing ratios indicate convective outflow of boundary layer air in the TTL. The CO2 profiles show that the level of main convective outflow was mostly located at potential temperatures between 350 and 360 K, and for 11 August reached up to 370 K.

While the CO2 minima indicate quite significant convective influence, the O3 profiles suggest that the observed convective signatures were mostly not fresh, but of older origin (several days or more). When compared with the mean O3 profile measured during a previous campaign over Darwin in November 2005, the O3 minimum at the main convective outflow level was less pronounced over Ouagadougou. Furthermore O3 mixing ratios were much higher throughout the whole TTL and, unlike over Darwin, rarely showed low values observed in the regional boundary layer.

Signatures of irreversible mixing following overshooting of convective air were scarce in the tracer data. Some small signatures indicative of this process were found in CO2 profiles between 390 and 410 K during the flights of 4 and 8 August, and in CO data at 410 K on 7 August. However, the absence of expected corresponding signatures in other tracer data makes this evidence inconclusive, and overall there is little indication from the observations that overshooting convection has a profound impact on gas-phase tracer TTL composition during AMMA.

We find the amount of photochemically aged air isentropically mixed into the TTL across the subtropical tropopause to be not significant. Using the N2O observations we estimate the fraction of aged extratropical stratospheric air in the TTL to be 0.0±0.1 up to 370 K during the local flights. Above the TTL this fraction increases to 0.3±0.1 at 390 K.

The subtropical barrier, as indicated by the slope of the correlation between N2O and O3 between 415 and 490 K, does not appear as a sharp border between the tropics and extratropics, but rather as a gradual transition region between 10° N and 25° N where isentropic mixing between these two regions may occur.

Final-revised paper