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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Nov 2016

Research article | 29 Nov 2016

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Quantifying the vertical transport of CHBr3 and CH2Br2 over the Western Pacific

Robyn Butler1, Paul I. Palmer1, Liang Feng1, Stephen J. Andrews2, Elliot L. Atlas3, Lucy J. Carpenter2, Valeria Donets3, Neil R. P. Harris4, Stephen A. Montzka5, Laura L. Pan6, Ross J. Salawitch7, and Sue M. Schauffler6 Robyn Butler et al.
  • 1School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 2Department of Chemistry, Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, University of York, UK
  • 3University of Miami, Florida, USA
  • 4Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 5National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, USA
  • 6National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 7University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA

Abstract. We use the GEOS-Chem global 3-D atmospheric chemistry transport model to interpret atmospheric observations of bromoform (CHBr3) and dibromomethane (CH2Br2) collected during the CAST and CONTRAST aircraft measurement campaigns over the Western Pacific, January–February, 2014. We use a new linearised, tagged version of CHBr3 and CH2Br2, allowing us to study the influence of emissions from specific geographical regions on observed atmospheric variations. The model describes 32%–37% of CHBr3 observed variability and 15%–45% of CH2Br2 observed variability during CAST and CONTRAST, reflecting errors in vertical model transport. The model has a mean positive bias of 30% that is larger near the surface reflecting errors in the poorly constrained prior emission estimates. We find using the model that observed variability of CHBr3 and CH2Br2 is driven by ocean emissions, particularly by the open ocean above which there is deep convection. We find that contributions from coastal oceans and terrestrial sources over the Western Pacific are significant above altitudes >6km, but is still dominated by the open ocean emissions and by air masses transported over longer time lines than the campaign period. In the absence of reliable ocean emission estimates, we use a new physical age of air simulation to determine the relative abundance of halogens delivered by CHBr3 and CH2Br2 to the tropical transition layer (TTL). We find that 6% (47%) of air masses with halogen released by the ocean reach the TTL within two (three) atmospheric e-folding lifetimes of CHBr3 and almost all of them reach the TTL within one e-folding lifetime of CH2Br2. We find these gases are delivered to the TTL by a small number of rapid convection events during the study period. Over the duration of CAST and CONTRAST and over our study region, oceans delivered a mean (range) CHBr3 and CH2Br2 mole fraction of 0.46 (0.13–0.72) and 0.88 (0.71–1.01) pptv, respectively, to the TTL, and a mean (range) Bry mole fraction of 3.14 (1.81–4.18)pptv to the upper troposphere. Open ocean emissions are responsible for 75% of these values, with only 8% from coastal oceans.

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Robyn Butler et al.
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Short summary
Natural sources of short-lived bromoform and dibromomethane are important for determining the inorganic bromine budget in the stratosphere that drives ozone loss. Two new modelling techniques describe how different geographical source regions influence their atmospheric variability over the Western Pacific. We find that it's driven primarily by open ocean sources, and we use atmospheric observations to help estimate their contributions to the upper tropospheric inorganic bromine budget.
Natural sources of short-lived bromoform and dibromomethane are important for determining the...