Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
22 Jun 2010
 | 22 Jun 2010

Quantifying the clear-sky temperature inversion frequency and strength over the Arctic Ocean during summer and winter seasons from AIRS profiles

A. Devasthale, U. Willén, K.-G. Karlsson, and C. G. Jones

Abstract. Temperature inversions are one of the dominant features of the Arctic atmosphere and play a crucial role in various processes by controlling the transfer of mass and moisture fluxes through the lower troposphere. It is therefore essential that they are accurately quantified, monitored and simulated as realistically as possible over the Arctic regions. In the present study, the characteristics of inversions in terms of frequency and strength are quantified for the entire Arctic Ocean for summer and winter seasons of 2003 to 2008 using the AIRS data for the clear-sky conditions. The probability density functions (PDFs) of the inversion strength are also presented for every summer and winter month.

Our analysis shows that although the inversion frequency along the coastal regions of Arctic decreases from June to August, inversions are still seen in almost each profile retrieved over the inner Arctic region. In winter, inversions are ubiquitous and are also present in every profile analysed over the inner Arctic region. When averaged over the entire study area (70° N–90° N), the inversion frequency in summer ranges from 69 to 86% for the ascending passes and 72–86% for the descending passes. For winter, the frequency values are 88–91% for the ascending passes and 89–92% for the descending passes of AIRS/AQUA. The PDFs of inversion strength for the summer months are narrow and right-skewed (or positively skewed), while in winter, they are much broader. In summer months, the mean values of inversion strength for the entire study area range from 2.5 to 3.9 K, while in winter, they range from 7.8 to 8.9 K. The standard deviation of the inversion strength is double in winter compared to summer. The inversions in the summer months of 2007 were very strong compared to other years. The warming in the troposphere of about 1.5–3.0 K vertically extending up to 400 hPa was observed in the summer months of 2007.

Final-revised paper