Articles | Volume 15, issue 22
Research article
27 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 27 Nov 2015

Reassessment of MIPAS age of air trends and variability

F. J. Haenel, G. P. Stiller, T. von Clarmann, B. Funke, E. Eckert, N. Glatthor, U. Grabowski, S. Kellmann, M. Kiefer, A. Linden, and T. Reddmann

Abstract. A new and improved setup of the SF6 retrieval together with a newly calibrated version of MIPAS-ENVISAT level 1b spectra (version 5, ESA data version 5.02/5.06) was used to obtain a new global SF6 data set, covering the total observational period of MIPAS from July 2002 to April 2012 for the first time. Monthly and zonally averaged SF6 profiles were converted into mean age of air using a tropospheric SF6-reference curve. The obtained data set of age of air was compared to airborne age of air measurements. The temporal evolution of the mean age of air was then investigated in 10° latitude and 1–2 km altitude bins. A regression model consisting of a constant and a linear trend term, two proxies for the quasi-biennial oscillation variation, sinusoidal terms for the seasonal and semiannual variation and overtones was fitted to the age of air time series. The annual cycle for particular regions in the stratosphere was investigated and compared to other studies. The age of air trend over the total MIPAS period consisting of the linear term was assessed and compared to previous findings of Stiller et al. (2012). While the linear increase of mean age is confirmed to be positive for the northern midlatitudes and southern polar middle stratosphere, differences are found in the northern polar upper stratosphere, where the mean age is now found to increase as well. The magnitude of trends in the northern midlatitude middle stratosphere is slightly lower compared to the previous version and the trends fit remarkably well to the trend derived by Engel et al. (2009). Negative age of air trends found by Stiller et al. (2012) are confirmed for the lowermost tropical stratosphere and lowermost southern midlatitudinal stratosphere. Differences to the previous data versions occur in the middle tropical stratosphere around 25 km, where the trends are now negative. Overall, the new latitude–altitude distribution of trends appears to be less patchy and more coherent than the previous one. The new data provide evidence of an accelerating shallow branch of the Brewer–Dobson circulation, at least in the Southern Hemisphere. Finally the age of air decadal trends are compared to trends calculated with simulated SF6 values by the Karlsruhe Simulation Model of the Middle Atmosphere (KASIMA) and good agreement is found. The hemispheric asymmetry in the trends found in the MIPAS data is also indicated in the trends calculated with simulated SF6 values by the KASIMA model.

Short summary
Stratospheric circulation is thought to change as a consequence of climate change. Empirical evidence, however, is sparse. In this paper we present latitude- and altitude-resolved trends of the mean age of stratospheric air as derived from SF6 measurements performed by the MIPAS satellite instrument. The mean of the age of stratospheric air is a measure of the intensity of the Brewer-Dobson circulation. In this paper we discuss differences with respect to a preceding analysis by Stiller et al.
Final-revised paper