Implementation of Tritium in the Lmdz-Iso General Circulation Model: First Promising Results for the Study of the Relationships Between Stratospheric Air Inputs into the Lower Troposphere in Polar Regions, Water Cycle and Climate

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Alexandre Cauquoin1,2, Philippe Jean Baptiste2, Camille M Risi1, Elise Fourre2 and Amaelle Landais2, (1)Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique UPMC, Paris, France, (2)LSCE, Gif Sur Yvette, France
Understanding the links between climate and water cycle is essential in the current context of global warming. The water isotopic composition, quantified as δD, δ18O or δ17O, has a great potential to trace the organization of present-day hydrological cycle. When recorded in various archives as tree rings, sediments, ice cores, they have also been largely used to reconstruct the past evolution of climate and water.

The Antarctic cap is extremely sensitive to climate change. Moreover, this region is under the influence of exchanges between the troposphere and the stratosphere because of the presence of the polar vortex. Tritium (3H) has been shown to be an appropriate tracer for the intrusion of stratospheric air masses into the lower troposphere. Natural tritium is mainly produced by the interaction of cosmic radiations with the upper atmosphere. This tritium enters the hydrological cycle in the form of tritiated water molecules (HTO) and has a radioactive half-life of 4500±8 days.

In an approach combining data and model, we have first implemented tritium in the coupled Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique Zoom (LMDZ) Atmospheric General Circulation Model developed at IPSL [Risi et al., 2010]: LMDZ-iso. The implementation of natural tritium uses the same model architecture as for the other water isotopes, after a correct description of associated cosmogenic production terms [Masarik and Beer, 2009]. The model is used in a configuration dedicated to the simulation of the stratosphere, with 39 layers.

In this presentation, we will focus on the modeling of spatial and temporal natural variations of tritium content in precipitation. The model is validated against a compilation of available data for natural tritium. We show that the continental and latitudinal effects are well reproduced by the model and that simulated seasonal variations of the tritium content of precipitation are coherent with our current knowledge of troposphere-stratosphere exchanges.

Masarik and Beer (2009) J. Geophys. Res., 114, D11103.

Risi et al. (2010) J. Geophys. Res., 115, D12118.