Articles | Volume 17, issue 9
Research article
03 May 2017
Research article |  | 03 May 2017

Global large-scale stratosphere–troposphere exchange in modern reanalyses

Alexander C. Boothe and Cameron R. Homeyer

Abstract. Stratosphere–troposphere exchange (STE) has important impacts on the chemical and radiative properties of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. This study presents a 15-year climatology of global large-scale STE from four modern reanalyses: ERA-Interim, JRA-55, MERRA-2, and MERRA. STE is separated into three regions (tropics, subtropics, and extratropics) and two transport directions (stratosphere-to-troposphere transport or STT and troposphere-to-stratosphere transport or TST) in an attempt to identify the significance of known transport mechanisms. The extratropics and tropics are separated by the tropopause break. Any STE occurring between the tropics and the extratropics through the tropopause break is considered subtropical exchange (i.e., in the vicinity of the subtropical jet).

In addition, this study employs a method to identify STE as that which crosses the lapse-rate tropopause (LRT), while most previous studies have used a potential vorticity (PV) isosurface as the troposphere–stratosphere boundary. PV-based and LRT-based STE climatologies are compared using the ERA-Interim reanalysis output. The comparison reveals quantitative and qualitative differences, particularly for TST in the polar regions.

Based upon spatiotemporal integrations, we find STE to be STT dominant in ERA-Interim and JRA-55 and TST dominant in MERRA and MERRA-2. The sources of the differences are mainly attributed to inconsistencies in the representation of STE in the subtropics and extratropics. Time series during the 15-year analysis period show long-term changes that are argued to correspond with changes in the Brewer–Dobson circulation.

Short summary
We examine global atmospheric transport that impacts chemistry and climate. In particular, we compare exchanges of troposphere and stratosphere air from large-scale processes as depicted from multiple modern reanalysis models (those intending to provide "best guesses" of the global atmospheric state at a given point in time). We find that transport varies considerably amongst the reanalyses and is sensitive to the choice of troposphere–stratosphere boundary.
Final-revised paper