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Simulation of stratospheric water vapor and trends using three reanalyses

Schoeberl, M. R., A. Dessler, and T. Wang (2012), Simulation of stratospheric water vapor and trends using three reanalyses, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 6475-6487, doi:10.5194/acp-12-6475-2012.

The domain-filling, forward trajectory calculation model developed by Schoeberl and Dessler (2011) is extended to the 1979–2010 period. We compare results from NASA’s MERRA, NCEP’s CFSR, and ECMWF’s ERAi reanalyses with HALOE, MLS, and balloon observations. The CFSR based simulation produces a wetter stratosphere than MERRA, and ERAi produces a drier stratosphere than MERRA. We find that ERAi 100 hPa temperatures are cold biased compared to Singapore sondes and MERRA, which explains the ERAi result, and the CFSR grid does not resolve the cold point tropopause, which explains its relatively higher water vapor concentration. The pattern of dehydration locations is also different among the three reanalyses. ERAi dehydration pattern stretches across the Pacific while CFSR and MERRA concentrate dehydration activity in the West Pacific. CSFR and ERAi also show less dehydration activity in the West Pacific Southern Hemisphere than MERRA. The trajectory models’ lower northern high latitude stratosphere tends to be dry because too little methane-derived water descends from the middle stratosphere. Using the MLS tropical tape recorder signal, we find that MERRA vertical ascent is 15 % too weak while ERAi is 30 % too strong. The trajectory model reproduces the observed reduction in the amplitude of the 100-hPa annual cycle in zonal mean water vapor as it propagates to middle latitudes. Finally, consistent with the observations, the models show less than 0.2 ppm decade−1 trend in water vapor both at mid-latitudes and in the tropics.

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