76 Transit Times From Northern Hemisphere Midlatitudes: Connections to Tropospheric Dynamics

Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Meridian Foyer/Summit (The Commons Hotel)
Clara Orbe, NASA, Washington, DC; and D. W. Waugh

The distribution of transit times from the Northern Hemisphere (NH) midlatitude surface is a fundamental property of tropospheric transport. Here we present an analysis of the transit time distribution (TTD) since air last contacted the northern midlatitude surface layer, as simulated by the NASA Global Modeling Initiative Chemistry Transport Model. We find that throughout the troposphere the TTD is characterized by long flat tails that reflect the recirculation of old air from the Southern Hemisphere and results in mean ages that are significantly larger than the modal age. Key aspects of the TTD -- its mode, mean and spectral width -- are interpreted in terms of tropospheric dynamics, including seasonal shifts in the location and strength of tropical convection and variations in quasi-isentropic transport out of the northern midlatitude surface layer. Our results indicate that current diagnostics of tropospheric transport are insufficient for comparing model transport and that the full distribution of transit times is a more appropriate constraint.
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