Articles | Volume 8, issue 13
10 Jul 2008
 | 10 Jul 2008

Seasonal and inter-annual variations in troposphere-to-stratosphere transport from the tropical tropopause layer

J. G. Levine, P. Braesicke, N. R. P. Harris, and J. A. Pyle

Abstract. In an earlier study of troposphere-to-stratosphere transport (TST) via the tropical tropopause layer (TTL), we found that the vast majority of air parcels undergoing TST from the base of the TTL enter the extratropical lowermost stratosphere quasi-horizontally and show little or no regional preference with regards to origin in the TTL or entry into the stratosphere. We have since repeated the trajectory calculations – originally limited to a single Northern Hemisphere winter period – in a variety of months and years to assess how robust our earlier findings are to change of timing. To first order, we find that the main conclusions hold, irrespective of the season, year and phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). We also explore: the distribution of TST between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; the sensitivity of modelled TST to the definition of the tropopause; and the routes by which air parcels undergo transport exclusively to the stratospheric overworld. Subject to a dynamical definition of the tropopause, we identify a strong bias towards TST in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly during the Northern Hemisphere summer. The thermal tropopause, defined according to the World Meteorological Organization, lies above the dynamical tropopause throughout the extratropics. Inevitably, on switching to the thermal definition, we calculate much less transport across the tropopause, particularly in the subtropics, which could be important with regards to interpretation of processes affecting ozone chemistry in the extratropical lowermost stratosphere (ELS). In contrast to the rather homogeneous nature of TST into the ELS, we find that transport to the overworld takes place from relatively well-defined regions of the TTL, predominantly above the West Pacific and Indonesia, except for an El Niño period in which most transport takes place from regions above the East Pacific and South America.

Final-revised paper