Articles | Volume 16, issue 22
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 14203–14217, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 14203–14217, 2016

Research article 16 Nov 2016

Research article | 16 Nov 2016

STEFLUX, a tool for investigating stratospheric intrusions: application to two WMO/GAW global stations

Davide Putero1,2, Paolo Cristofanelli1, Michael Sprenger2, Bojan Škerlak2, Laura Tositti3, and Paolo Bonasoni1 Davide Putero et al.
  • 1CNR–ISAC, National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, via Gobetti 101, 40129, Bologna, Italy
  • 2IAC–ETH, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Dept. Of Chemistry “G. Ciamician”, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Via Selmi 2, 40126, Bologna, Italy

Abstract. Stratospheric intrusion (SI) events are a topic of ongoing research, especially because of their ability to change the oxidation capacity of the troposphere and their contribution to tropospheric ozone levels. In this work, a novel tool called STEFLUX (Stratosphere-to-Troposphere Exchange Flux) is presented, discussed, and used to provide a first long-term investigation of SI over two global hot-spot regions for climate change and air pollution: the southern Himalayas and the central Mediterranean Basin. The main purpose of STEFLUX is to obtain a fast-computing and reliable identification of the SI events occurring at a specific location and during a specified time window. It relies on a compiled stratosphere-to-troposphere exchange (STE) climatology, which makes use of the ERA-Interim reanalysis dataset from the ECMWF, as well as a refined version of a well-established Lagrangian methodology. STEFLUX results are compared to the SI observations (SIO) at two high-mountain WMO/GAW global stations in these climate hot spots, i.e., the Nepal Climate Observatory-Pyramid (NCO-P, 5079 m a.s.l.) and Mt. Cimone (2165 m a.s.l.), which are often affected by SI events. Compared to the observational datasets at the two specific measurement sites, STEFLUX is able to detect SI events on a regional scale. Furthermore, it has the advantage of retaining additional information concerning the pathway of stratospheric-affected air masses, such as the location of tropopause crossing and other meteorological parameters along the trajectories. However, STEFLUX neglects mixing and dilution that air masses undergo along their transport within the troposphere. Therefore, the regional-scale STEFLUX events cannot be expected to perfectly reproduce the point measurements at NCO-P and Mt. Cimone, which are also affected by small-scale (orographic) circulations. Still, the seasonal variability in SI events according to SIO and STEFLUX agrees fairly well. By exploiting the fact that the ERA-Interim reanalysis extends back to 1979, the long-term climatology of SI events at NCO-P and Mt. Cimone is also assessed in this work. The analysis of the 35-year record at both stations denies the existence of any significant trend in the SI frequency, except for winter seasons at NCO-P. Furthermore, for the first time, by using the STEFLUX outputs, we investigate the potential impact of specific climate factors (i.e. ENSO, QBO, and solar activity) on SI frequency variability over the Mediterranean Basin and the Himalayas.

Short summary
The aim of this paper is to present STEFLUX, a tool to obtain a fast-computing identification of the stratospheric intrusion (SI) events occurring at a specific location and during a specified time window. STEFLUX results are compared to the SI observations at two high-mountain WMO/GAW global stations in Nepal and Italy, representative of two hot spots for climate change. Furthermore, the climatology of SI at the two stations is assessed, and the impact of several climate factors investigated.
Final-revised paper