An atmospheric chemist in search of the tropopause

Prather, M., X. Zhu, Q. Tang, J. Hsu, and J. L. Neu (2011), An atmospheric chemist in search of the tropopause, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D04306, doi:10.1029/2010JD014939.

Delineating the boundary between troposphere and stratosphere in a chemistry transport model requires a state variable for each air mass that maps out the ever shifting, overlapping three‐dimensional (3‐D) boundary at each time step. Using an artificial tracer, e90, with surface sources and 90 day decay time, the model e90 tropopause matches the 1‐D temperature lapse rate definition of the tropopause as well as the seasonal variation of ozone at this boundary. This approach works from equator to pole, over all seasons, unlike methods based on potential vorticity or ozone. By focusing on the time scales that separate stratosphere from troposphere, we examine the cause of ozone seasonality at the midlatitude tropopause, the oldest air in the troposphere (winter descent in the subtropics), and a north‐south bias in the age of air of the lowermost stratosphere as evaluated using a northern tracer. The tracer e90 is invaluable in 3‐D modeling, readily separating stratosphere from troposphere and a giving quantitative measure of the effective distance from the tropopause.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)