Tropospheric ozone variations at the Nepal climate observatory – pyramid (Himalayas, 5079 m a.s.l.) and influence of stratospheric intrusion events
1Institute for Atmospheric Science and Climate, National Research Council, Bologna, Italy
2ETHZ, Zurich, Switzerland
3Lab. de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement, St Martin d'Hères Cedex, France
4Lab. de Meteorologie Physique, CNRS, Université Blaise Pascal, Aubiere Cedex, France
5EV-K2-CNR Committee, 24126 Bergamo, Italy
Abstract. The paper presents the first 2-years of continuous surface ozone (O3) observations and systematic assessment of the influence of stratospheric intrusions (SI) at the Nepal Climate Observatory at Pyramid (NCO-P; 27°57' N, 86°48' E), located in the Southern Himalayas at 5079 m a.s.l. Continuous O3 monitoring has been carried out at this GAW-WMO station in the framework of the Ev-K2-CNR SHARE and UNEP ABC projects since March 2006. Over the period March 2006–February 2008, an average O3 value of 49±12 ppbv (±1δ) was recorded, with a large annual cycle characterized by a maximum during the pre-monsoon (61±9 ppbv) and a minimum during the monsoon (39±10 ppbv). In general, the average O3 diurnal cycles had different shapes in the different seasons, suggesting an important interaction between the synoptic-scale circulation and the local mountain wind regime.
Short-term O3 behaviour in the middle/lower troposphere (e.g. at the altitude level of NCO-P) can be significantly affected by deep SI which, representing the most important natural input for tropospheric O3, can also influence the regional atmosphere radiative forcing. To identify days possibly influenced by SI at the NCO-P, analyses were performed on in-situ observations (O3 and meteorological parameters), total column O3 data from OMI satellite and air-mass potential vorticity provided by the LAGRANTO back-trajectory model. In particular, a specially designed statistical methodology was applied to the time series of the observed and modelled stratospheric tracers. On this basis, during the 2-year investigation, 14.1% of analysed days were found to be affected by SI. The SI frequency showed a clear seasonal cycle, with minimum during the summer monsoon (1.2%) and higher values during the rest of the year (21.5%). As suggested by the LAGRANTO analysis, the position of the subtropical jet stream could play an important role in determining the occurrence of deep SI transport on the Southern Himalayas.
In order to estimate the fraction of O3 due to air-mass transport from the stratosphere at the NCO-P, the 30 min O3 concentrations recorded during the detected SI days were analysed. In particular, in-situ relative humidity and black carbon observations were used to exclude influence from wet and polluted air-masses transported by up-valley breezes. This analysis led to the conclusion that during SI O3 significantly increased by 27.1% (+13 ppbv) with respect to periods not affected by such events. Moreover, the integral contribution of SI (O3S) to O3 at the NCO-P was also calculated, showing that 13.7% of O3 recorded at the measurement site could be attributed to SI. On a seasonal basis, the lowest SI contributions were found during the summer monsoon (less than 0.1%), while the highest were found during the winter period (24.2%). These results indicated that, during non-monsoon periods, high O3 levels could affect NCO-P during SI, thus influencing the variability of tropospheric O3 over the Southern Himalayas. Being a powerful regional greenhouse gas, these results indicate that the evaluation of the current and future regional climate cannot be assessed without properly taking into account the influence of SI to tropospheric O3 in this important area.