Observations of Deformation and Mixing of the Total Ozone Field in the Antarctic Polar Vortex

Kenneth P. Bowman Climate System Research Program, Department of Meteorology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Nicholas J. Mangus Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois

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Abstract

Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer images of the springtime Southern Hemisphere commonly show concentric layers in the total ozone field outside the Antarctic polar vortex. The layering appears to result from horizontal folding and stretching of regions on the equatorward flank of the polar vortex near the midlatitude ozone maximum. This folding and stretching interleaves low and high ozone air from the subtropics and midlatitudes, respectively. Occasional large amplitude wave events can extract very low ozone air from the interior of the polar vortex (the Antarctic ozone hole), but the folding and stretching occurs in midlatitudes even when wave amplitudes are not exceptionally large. The folding and stretching results in relatively rapid horizontal mixing of the atmosphere on the equatorward flank of the jet. This type of Lagrangian behavior may be common in the atmosphere, but is only visible when local tracer gradients are large and observations with high spatial resolution are available. Also, experimentation has shown that gray-scale images of TOMS data show the details of the spatial distribution of ozone much more clearly than contour maps or false-color images.

Abstract

Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer images of the springtime Southern Hemisphere commonly show concentric layers in the total ozone field outside the Antarctic polar vortex. The layering appears to result from horizontal folding and stretching of regions on the equatorward flank of the polar vortex near the midlatitude ozone maximum. This folding and stretching interleaves low and high ozone air from the subtropics and midlatitudes, respectively. Occasional large amplitude wave events can extract very low ozone air from the interior of the polar vortex (the Antarctic ozone hole), but the folding and stretching occurs in midlatitudes even when wave amplitudes are not exceptionally large. The folding and stretching results in relatively rapid horizontal mixing of the atmosphere on the equatorward flank of the jet. This type of Lagrangian behavior may be common in the atmosphere, but is only visible when local tracer gradients are large and observations with high spatial resolution are available. Also, experimentation has shown that gray-scale images of TOMS data show the details of the spatial distribution of ozone much more clearly than contour maps or false-color images.

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