1NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23666, USA
2LATMOS, CNRS-INSU, UMR 8190, Université de Versailles St. Quentin, Université de Paris 6, France
3Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, USA
4Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, 2100, Denmark
Abstract. The evolution of aerosols in the tropical upper troposphere/lower stratosphere between June 2006 and October 2009 is examined using the observations of the space borne CALIOP lidar aboard the CALIPSO satellite. Superimposed on several volcanic plumes and soot from an extreme biomass-burning event in 2009, the measurements reveal the existence of fast cleansing episodes of the lower stratosphere to altitudes as high as 20 km. The cleansing of the full 14–20 km layer takes place within 1–4 months. Its coincidence with the maximum of convective activity in the southern tropics, suggests that the cleansing is the result of a large number of overshooting towers, injecting aerosol-poor tropospheric air into the lower stratosphere. The enhancements of aerosols at the tropopause level during the NH summer may be due to the same transport process but associated with intense sources of aerosols at the surface. Since, the tropospheric air flux derived from CALIOP observations during North Hemisphere winter is 5–20 times larger than the slow ascent by radiative heating usually assumed, the observations suggest that convective overshooting is a major contributor to troposphere-to-stratosphere transport with concommitant implications to the Tropical Tropopause Layer top height, chemistry and thermal structure.