Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
28 Jan 2009
 | 28 Jan 2009

Scaling behaviour of the global tropopause

C. Varotsos, M. Efstathiou, and C. Tzanis

Abstract. Detrended fluctuation analysis is applied to the time series of the global tropopause height derived from the 1980–2004 daily radiosonde data, in order to detect long-range correlations in its time evolution.

Global tropopause height fluctuations in small time-intervals are found to be positively correlated to those in larger time intervals in a power-law fashion. The exponent of this dependence is larger in the tropics than in the middle and high latitudes in both hemispheres. Greater persistence is observed in the tropopause of the Northern than in the Southern Hemisphere. A plausible physical explanation of the fact that long-range correlations in tropopause variability decreases with increasing latitude is that the column ozone fluctuations (that are closely related with the tropopause ones) exhibit long range correlations, which are larger in tropics than in the middle and high latitudes at long time scales.

This finding for the tropopause height variability should reduce the existing uncertainties in assessing the climatic characteristics. More specifically the reliably modelled values of a climatic variable (i.e. past and future simulations) must exhibit the same scaling behaviour with that possibly existing in the real observations of the variable under consideration. An effort has been made to this end by applying the detrended fluctuation analysis to the global mean monthly land and sea surface temperature anomalies during the period January 1850–August 2008. The result obtained supports the findings presented above, notably: the correlations between the fluctuations in the global mean monthly land and sea surface temperature display scaling behaviour which must characterizes any projection.

Final-revised paper