Articles | Volume 13, issue 21
Research article
06 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 06 Nov 2013

Ozone seasonality above the tropical tropopause: reconciling the Eulerian and Lagrangian perspectives of transport processes

M. Abalos, F. Ploeger, P. Konopka, W. J. Randel, and E. Serrano

Abstract. We aim to reconcile the recently published, apparently contrasting results regarding the relative importance of tropical upwelling versus horizontal transport for the seasonality of ozone above the tropical tropopause. Different analysis methods in the literature (Lagrangian versus Eulerian, and isentropic versus pressure vertical coordinates) yield different perspectives of ozone transport, and the results must be carefully compared in equivalent terms to avoid misinterpretation. By examining the Lagrangian calculations in the Eulerian formulation, we show here that the results are in fact consistent with each other and with a common understanding of the ozone transport processes near and above the tropical tropopause.

We further emphasize that the complementary approaches are suited for answering two different scientific questions: (1) what drives the observed seasonal cycle in ozone at a particular level above the tropical tropopause? and (2) how important is horizontal transport from mid-latitudes for ozone concentrations in the tropical lower stratosphere? Regarding the first question, the analysis of the transformed Eulerian mean (TEM) ozone budget shows that the annual cycle in tropical upwelling is the main forcing of the ozone seasonality at altitudes with large vertical gradients in the tropical lower stratosphere. To answer the second question a Lagrangian framework must be used, and the results show that a large fraction (~50%) of the ozone molecules ascending through the tropical lower stratosphere is of extra-tropical origin and has been in-mixed from mid-latitudes.

Final-revised paper