Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Research article
26 Jun 2017
Research article |  | 26 Jun 2017

Effects of mixing on resolved and unresolved scales on stratospheric age of air

Simone Dietmüller, Hella Garny, Felix Plöger, Patrick Jöckel, and Duy Cai

Abstract. Mean age of air (AoA) is a widely used metric to describe the transport along the Brewer–Dobson circulation. We seek to untangle the effects of different processes on the simulation of AoA, using the chemistry–climate model EMAC (ECHAM/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry) and the Chemical Lagrangian Model of the Stratosphere (CLaMS). Here, the effects of residual transport and two-way mixing on AoA are calculated. To do so, we calculate the residual circulation transit time (RCTT). The difference of AoA and RCTT is defined as aging by mixing. However, as diffusion is also included in this difference, we further use a method to directly calculate aging by mixing on resolved scales. Comparing these two methods of calculating aging by mixing allows for separating the effect of unresolved aging by mixing (which we term aging by diffusion in the following) in EMAC and CLaMS. We find that diffusion impacts AoA by making air older, but its contribution plays a minor role (order of 10 %) in all simulations. However, due to the different advection schemes of the two models, aging by diffusion has a larger effect on AoA and mixing efficiency in EMAC, compared to CLaMS. Regarding the trends in AoA, in CLaMS the AoA trend is negative throughout the stratosphere except in the Northern Hemisphere middle stratosphere, consistent with observations. This slight positive trend is neither reproduced in a free-running nor in a nudged simulation with EMAC – in both simulations the AoA trend is negative throughout the stratosphere. Trends in AoA are mainly driven by the contributions of RCTT and aging by mixing, whereas the contribution of aging by diffusion plays a minor role.

Final-revised paper