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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 3937–3948, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 3937–3948, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 28 Apr 2011

Research article | 28 Apr 2011

On the structural changes in the Brewer-Dobson circulation after 2000

H. Bönisch1, A. Engel1, Th. Birner2, P. Hoor3, D. W. Tarasick4, and E. A. Ray5,6 H. Bönisch et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 3Institute for Atmospheric Physics, University of Mainz, Germany
  • 4Environment Canada, Downsview, Ontario, Canada
  • 5Chemical Sciences Division, Earth Systems Research Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. In this paper we present evidence that the observed increase in tropical upwelling after the year 2000 may be attributed to a change in the Brewer-Dobson circulation pattern. For this purpose, we use the concept of transit times derived from residual circulation trajectories and different in-situ measurements of ozone and nitrous dioxide. Observations from the Canadian midlatitude ozone profile record, probability density functions of in-situ N2O observations and a shift of the N2O-O3 correlation slopes, taken together, indicate that the increased upwelling in the tropics after the year 2000 appears to have triggered an intensification of tracer transport from the tropics into the extratropics in the lower stratosphere below about 500 K. This finding is corroborated by the fact that transit times along the shallow branch of the residual circulation into the LMS have decreased for the same time period (1993–2003). On a longer time scale (1979–2009), the transit time of the shallow residual circulation branch show a steady decrease of about −1 month/decade over the last 30 yr, while the transit times of the deep branch remain unchanged. This highlights that changes in the upwelling across the tropical tropopause are not sufficient as an indicator for changes in the entire Brewer-Dobson circulation.

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