Articles | Volume 11, issue 10
31 May 2011
 | 31 May 2011

On the behaviour of the tropopause folding events over the Tibetan Plateau

X. L. Chen, Y. M. Ma, H. Kelder, Z. Su, and K. Yang

Abstract. Due to its harsh natural conditions, there had not been any intensive radiosonde observations over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) before the year 2008, when a regional radiosonde observation network was implemented through a Sino-Japan joint cooperation project. This paper reports, on the basis of these observations, on an analysis of the structure of upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) and provides observations of stratosphere and troposphere exchange (STE) over the TP.

Due to sparseness of high resolution radiosonde data, many previous studies assumed that there was only one thermal tropopause over the TP. Actually, the radiosonde temperature profiles in winter time over the TP often exhibit a multiple tropopause (MT). The MT occurs in winter with a high frequency over the Plateau. MT events during this time are associated with tropopause folds near the subtropical westerly jet. The MT consistently varied with the movement of the jet. The MT becomes a single tropopause with the development of the monsoon. The detailed analyses of MT characteristics are reported in this paper.

Earlier analyses of global MT events (with data based on GPS radio occultation, ERA-40 data and Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive database) resulted in a climatic frequency of MT occurrences in the winter season over the Plateau is not more than 40 %. Based on high resolution data of intensive radiosonde observations, our estimations of MT occurrence over the Plateau can be as high as 80 % during certain winters. This reminds us to pay more attention to the MT events above the Plateau. The influence of the coarse vertical resolution and other effects on the estimation of MT occurrence frequency are also discussed.

The stratospheric intruding episodes are generally associated with the presence of subtropical jet stream over the Plateau. The complex structure of dynamic tropopause folding over the Plateau have been reflected by the thermal MT events observed by radiosondes. The intrusion of air masses from the stratosphere may contribute to a higher upper tropospheric ozone concentration in winter than in summer above the plateau.

Final-revised paper