Dehydration of the stratosphere

Schoeberl, M. R., and A. Dessler (2011), Dehydration of the stratosphere, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 8433-8446, doi:10.5194/acp-11-8433-2011.

Domain filling, forward trajectory calculations are used to examine the global dehydration processes that control stratospheric water vapor. As with most Lagrangian models of this type, water vapor is instantaneously removed from the parcel to keep the relative humidity (RH) with respect to ice from exceeding saturation or a specified super-saturation value. We also test a simple parameterization of stratospheric convective moistening through ice lofting and the effect of gravity waves as a mechanism that can augment dehydration. Comparing diabatic and kinematic trajectories driven by the MERRA reanalysis, we find that, unlike the results from Liu et al. (2010), the additional transport due to the vertical velocity “noise” in the kinematic calculation creates too dry a stratosphere and a too diffuse a water-vapor tape recorder signal compared observations. We also show that the kinematically driven parcels are more likely to encounter the coldest tropopause temperatures than the diabatic trajectories. The diabatic simulations produce stratospheric water vapor mixing ratios close to that observed by Aura’s Microwave Limb Sounder and are consistent with the MERRA tropical tropopause temperature biases. Convective moistening, which will increase stratospheric HDO, also increases stratospheric water vapor while the addition of parameterized gravity waves does the opposite. We find that while the Tropical West Pacific is the dominant dehydration location, but dehydration over Tropical South America is also important. Antarctica makes a small contribution to the overall stratospheric water vapor budget as well by releasing very dry air into the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere following the break up of the winter vortex.

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