Articles | Volume 15, issue 6
Research article
31 Mar 2015
Research article |  | 31 Mar 2015

The effects of springtime mid-latitude storms on trace gas composition determined from the MACC reanalysis

K. E. Knowland, R. M. Doherty, and K. I. Hodges

Abstract. The relationship between springtime air pollution transport of ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO) and mid-latitude cyclones is explored for the first time using the Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate (MACC) reanalysis for the period 2003–2012. In this study, the most intense spring storms (95th percentile) are selected for two regions, the North Pacific (NP) and the North Atlantic (NA). These storms (∼60 storms over each region) often track over the major emission sources of East Asia and eastern North America. By compositing the storms, the distributions of O3 and CO within a "typical" intense storm are examined. We compare the storm-centered composite to background composites of "average conditions" created by sampling the reanalysis data of the previous year to the storm locations. Mid-latitude storms are found to redistribute concentrations of O3 and CO horizontally and vertically throughout the storm. This is clearly shown to occur through two main mechanisms: (1) vertical lifting of CO-rich and O3-poor air isentropically, from near the surface to the mid- to upper-troposphere in the region of the warm conveyor belt; and (2) descent of O3-rich and CO-poor air isentropically in the vicinity of the dry intrusion, from the stratosphere toward the mid-troposphere. This can be seen in the composite storm's life cycle as the storm intensifies, with area-averaged O3 (CO) increasing (decreasing) between 200 and 500 hPa. The influence of the storm dynamics compared to the background environment on the composition within an area around the storm center at the time of maximum intensity is as follows. Area-averaged O3 at 300 hPa is enhanced by 50 and 36% and by 11 and 7.6% at 500 hPa for the NP and NA regions, respectively. In contrast, area-averaged CO at 300 hPa decreases by 12% for NP and 5.5% for NA, and area-averaged CO at 500 hPa decreases by 2.4% for NP while there is little change over the NA region. From the mid-troposphere, O3-rich air is clearly seen to be transported toward the surface, but the downward transport of CO-poor air is not discernible due to the high levels of CO in the lower troposphere. Area-averaged O3 is slightly higher at 1000 hPa (3.5 and 1.8% for the NP and NA regions, respectively). There is an increase of CO at 1000 hPa for the NP region (3.3%) relative to the background composite and a~slight decrease in area-averaged CO for the NA region at 1000 hPa (-2.7%).

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Short summary
Novel use of combined meteorology and composition reanalysis data and compositing methodologies to characterize pollutant distributions of ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO) in "typical" intense springtime storms versus the background environment for the period 2003--2012. Clear signals of O3 and CO redistributed horizontally and vertically throughout storms. In particular, the lofting of CO-rich/O3-poor air in the warm conveyor belt and the descent of O3-rich/CO-poor air in the dry intrusion.
Final-revised paper