Spatial and temporal variability of interhemispheric transport times

Wu, X., H. Yang, D. Waugh, C. Orbe, S. Tilmes, and J. Lamarque (2018), Spatial and temporal variability of interhemispheric transport times, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 7439-7452, doi:10.5194/acp-18-7439-2018.

The seasonal and interannual variability of transport times from the northern midlatitude surface into the Southern Hemisphere is examined using simulations of three idealized “age” tracers: an ideal age tracer that yields the mean transit time from northern midlatitudes and two tracers with uniform 50- and 5-day decay. For all tracers the largest seasonal and interannual variability occurs near the surface within the tropics and is generally closely coupled to movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). There are, however, notable differences in variability between the different tracers. The largest seasonal and interannual variability in the mean age is generally confined to latitudes spanning the ITCZ, with very weak variability in the southern extratropics. In contrast, for tracers subject to spatially uniform exponential loss the peak variability tends to be south of the ITCZ, and there is a smaller contrast between tropical and extratropical variability. These differences in variability occur because the distribution of transit times from northern midlatitudes is very broad and tracers with more rapid loss are more sensitive to changes in fast transit times than the mean age tracer. These simulations suggest that the seasonal– interannual variability in the southern extratropics of trace gases with predominantly NH midlatitude sources may differ depending on the gases’ chemical lifetimes.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)