Tropopause Inversion Layer and Stratosphere-Troposphere Exchange in Baroclinic Life Cycles: The Role of Diabatic Processes

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Daniel Kunkel, Peter Michael Hoor and Volkmar Wirth, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany
Observations and model simulations of temperature and tracer profiles in the extratropical upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS) show the presence of an inversion layer just above the thermal tropopause, i.e., the tropopause inversion layer (TIL), which is situated in a region affected by stratosphere-troposphere exchange (STE). Moreover, from a dynamical perspective the extratropical UTLS is highly affected by baroclinic life cycles. Since both the TIL and STE emerge, amongst many other features, during simulated baroclinic life cycles, we study whether there is a relationship between the TIL and STE.

We use the non-hydrostatic model COSMO in an idealized mid-latitude channel configuration to simulate baroclinic life cycles. In a first step contributions of individual diabatic processes from turbulence, radiation, and cloud microphysics to the formation of the TIL are analyzed. These results are compared to those from adiabatic simulations in which the TIL forms during the life cycles with the limitation of being less sharp than in observations. Furthermore, passive tropospheric and stratospheric tracers are used to identify STE. Regions of STE are then analyzed with respect to the temporal evolution of the static stability above the tropopause.

The results suggest that radiative effects, especially from water vapor, have the largest additional contribution to the TIL formation, while additional individual effects of cloud microphysics are almost negligible. STE occurs in all diabatic simulations but its strength depends highly on how the underlying diabatic process can affect the thermal and dynamical structure in the tropopause region. Weak STE is found when considering cloud microphysics, while STE is stronger in case of using turbulence and radiation. Tropopause-based vertical profiles of the tropospheric tracers show in some cases similarities with observed tracer profiles of CO.