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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 24 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 12183-12195, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Dec 2012

Research article | 21 Dec 2012

Quantifying the deep convective temperature signal within the tropical tropopause layer (TTL)

L. C. Paulik and T. Birner L. C. Paulik and T. Birner
  • Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Abstract. Dynamics on a vast range of spatial and temporal scales, from individual convective plumes to planetary-scale circulations, play a role in driving the temperature variability in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL). Here, we aim to better quantify the deep convective temperature signal within the TTL using multiple datasets. First, we investigate the link between ozone and temperature in the TTL using the Southern Hemisphere Additional Ozonesondes (SHADOZ) dataset. Low ozone concentrations in the TTL are indicative of deep convective transport from the boundary layer. We confirm the usefulness of ozone as an indicator of deep convection by identifying a typical temperature signal associated with reduced ozone events: an anomalously warm mid to upper troposphere and an anomalously cold upper TTL. We quantify these temperature signals using two diagnostics: (1) the "ozone minimum" diagnostic, which has been used in previous studies and identifies the upper tropospheric minimum ozone concentration as a proxy for the level of main convective outflow; and (2) the "ozone mixing height", which we introduce in order to identify the maximum altitude in a vertical ozone profile up to which reduced ozone concentrations, typical of transport from the boundary layer are observed. Results indicate that the ozone mixing height diagnostic better separates profiles with convective influence than the ozone minimum diagnostic. Next, we collocate deep convective clouds identified by CloudSat 2B-CLDCLASS with temperature profiles based on Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) Global Position System (GPS) radio occultations. We find a robust large-scale deep convective TTL temperature signal, that is persistent in time. However, it is only the convective events that penetrate into the upper half of the TTL that have a significant impact on TTL temperature. A distinct seasonal difference in the spatial scale and the persistence of the temperature signal is identified. Deep-convective cloud top heights are on average found to be well described by the level of neutral buoyancy.

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