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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 26 Apr 2019

Submitted as: research article | 26 Apr 2019

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

Multivariate statistical air mass discrimination for the high-alpine observatory at the Zugspitze mountain, Germany

Armin Sigmund1,a, Korbinian Freier2,3, Till Rehm4, Ludwig Ries5, Christian Schunk6,b, Anette Menzel6,7, and Christoph K. Thomas1 Armin Sigmund et al.
  • 1Micrometeorology Group, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2Bavarian Environment Agency, Augsburg, Germany
  • 3Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 4Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus, Zugspitze, Germany
  • 5German Environment Agency, GAW Global Observatory, Zugspitze-Hohenpeissenberg, Germany
  • 6Ecoclimatology, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany
  • 7Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich, Garching, Germany
  • anow at: School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • bnow at: Safety and Radiation Protection, Technical University of Munich, Garching, Germany

Abstract. To assist atmospheric monitoring at high-alpine sites, a statistical approach for distinguishing between the dominant air masses was developed. This approach was based on a principal component analysis using five gas-phase and two meteorological variables. The analysis focused on the site Schneefernerhaus at Mt. Zugspitze, Germany. The investigated year was divided into 2-month periods, for which the analysis was repeated. Using the 33.3 % and 66.6 % percentiles of the first two principal components, nine air mass regimes were defined. These regimes were interpreted with respect to vertical transport and assigned to the air mass classes ML (recent contact with the mixing layer), UFT/SIN (undisturbed free troposphere or stratospheric intrusion), and HYBRID (influences of both the mixing layer and the free troposphere or ambiguous). 78 % of the investigated year were classifiable. ML accounted for 31 % of the cases with similar frequencies in all seasons. UFT/SIN comprised 14 % of the cases but were not found from April to July. HYBRID (55 %) mostly exhibited intermediate characteristics, whereby 17 % of HYBRID suggested an influence of the marine boundary layer or the lower free troposphere. The statistical approach was compared to a mechanistic approach using the ceilometer-based mixing layer height from a nearby valley site and a detection scheme for thermally induced mountain winds. Only 25 % of the cases were classifiable with the mechanistic approach. Both approaches agreed well, except in the rare cases of thermally induced uplift. The statistical approach is a promising step towards a real-time discrimination of air masses. Future work is necessary to assess the uncertainty arising from the standardization of real-time data.

Armin Sigmund et al.
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Armin Sigmund et al.
Armin Sigmund et al.
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Short summary
Air masses at the mountain site Schneefernerhaus at Mt. Zugspitze, Germany, were classified with respect to the atmospheric layer, from which they originate, and their degree of pollution. Measurements of several gases, particulate matter and standard meteorological quantities indicate that polluted air was lifted to the site in 31 % of the investigated year and clean air descended to the site in approximately 14 % of the year while most of the remaining cases were ambiguous.
Air masses at the mountain site Schneefernerhaus at Mt. Zugspitze, Germany, were classified with...