Stratosphere-troposphere exchange from the Lagrangian perspective: a case study and method sensitivities
Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETHZ, Switzerland
Abstract. An important part of extra-tropical stratosphere-to-troposphere transport occurs in association with baroclinic wave breaking and cut-off decay at the tropopause. In the last decade many studies have attempted to estimate stratosphere-troposphere exchange (STE) in such synoptic events with various methods, and more recently efforts have been put on inter-comparing these methods. However, large uncertainties remain on the sensitivities to methods intrinsic parameters, and on the best measure for STE with regard to end effects on chemistry.
The goal of the present study is to address these two fundamental issues in the context of the application of a trajectory-based Lagrangian method, which has been applied in the past to climatological studies and has also been involved in inter-comparison studies, to a typical baroclinic wave breaking event.
The analysis sheds light on (i) the fine mesoscale temporal and spatial structures that are associated with episodic, rapid inflows of stratospheric air into the troposphere; (ii) the spatial resolution of 1°×1° required to reasonably capture STE fluxes in such a wave breaking event; (iii) the effective removal of spurious exchange events using a threshold residence time; (iv) the relevance of residence time distributions for capturing the effective chemical forcing of STE; (v) the large differences in the temporal evolution and geographical distribution of STE fluxes across the 2 and the 4 potential vorticity unit iso-surface definitions of the tropopause.