Linking horizontal and vertical transports of biomass fire emissionsto the tropical Atlantic ozone paradox during the Northern Hemisphere winter season: climatology
- Department of Meteorology, Penn State University, 503 Walker Building, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
Abstract. During the Northern hemisphere winter season, biomass burning is widespread in West Africa, yet the total tropospheric column ozone values (<30DU) over much of the Tropical Atlantic Ocean (15°N-5°S) are relatively low. At the same time, the tropospheric column ozone values in the Southern Tropical Atlantic are higher than those in the Northern Hemisphere (ozone paradox). We examine the causes for low tropospheric column ozone values by considering the horizontal and vertical transport of biomass fire emissions in West Africa during November through March, using observed data which characterizes fires, aerosols, horizontal winds, precipitation, lightning and outgoing longwave radiation. We have found that easterly winds prevail in the lower troposphere but transition to westerly winds at pressure levels lower than 500hPa. A persistent anticyclone over West Africa at 700hPa is responsible for strong easterly winds, which causes a net outflow of ozone/ozone precursors from biomass burning in West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean towards South America. The lowest outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and highest precipitation rates are generally found over the central Atlantic, some distance downstream of fires in West Africa making the vertical transport of ozone and ozone precursors less likely and ozone destruction more likely. However, lightning over land areas in Central Africa and South America can lead to enhanced ozone levels in the upper troposphere especially over the Southern tropical Atlantic during the Northern Hemisphere winter season.