On the Two-Dimensional Transport of Stratospheric Trace Gases in Isentropic Coordinates

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  • 1 Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 02139
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Abstract

A zonally averaged model of stratospheric tracer transport is formulated in isentropic coordinated There are some conceptual and computational advantages, as well as some disadvantages in adopting the potential temperature, instead of pressure, as the vertical coordinate. The main disadvantage is that the “density” (mass per unit coordinate volume) in isentropic coordinates is no longer a constant as in the pressure coordinate system under the hydrostatic approximation. However, it can be shown that this density effect is almost negligible in the calculation of the mean diabatic circulation and the eddy advective transports. What is gained by adopting the new formulation is a conceptually simpler picture of the interplay of diabatic and adiabatic process in the transport of tracers. Mean diabatic heating (cooling) forces a direct rising (descending) mean mass flow. Along the streamlines of this mean mass circulation, tracers are advected in the mean. These surfaces slope downward and poleward in the lower stratosphere. In addition to advection, tracers are also dispersed from their mean path by transient adiabatic processes in a direction parallel to the local isentropic surface. As a result, the lines of mean constant tracer mass mixing ratio slope less steeply than the mean streamlines, but more steeply than the isentropic surfaces. The effect of eddy transport on chemically reacting minor constituent gases is also discussed.

Abstract

A zonally averaged model of stratospheric tracer transport is formulated in isentropic coordinated There are some conceptual and computational advantages, as well as some disadvantages in adopting the potential temperature, instead of pressure, as the vertical coordinate. The main disadvantage is that the “density” (mass per unit coordinate volume) in isentropic coordinates is no longer a constant as in the pressure coordinate system under the hydrostatic approximation. However, it can be shown that this density effect is almost negligible in the calculation of the mean diabatic circulation and the eddy advective transports. What is gained by adopting the new formulation is a conceptually simpler picture of the interplay of diabatic and adiabatic process in the transport of tracers. Mean diabatic heating (cooling) forces a direct rising (descending) mean mass flow. Along the streamlines of this mean mass circulation, tracers are advected in the mean. These surfaces slope downward and poleward in the lower stratosphere. In addition to advection, tracers are also dispersed from their mean path by transient adiabatic processes in a direction parallel to the local isentropic surface. As a result, the lines of mean constant tracer mass mixing ratio slope less steeply than the mean streamlines, but more steeply than the isentropic surfaces. The effect of eddy transport on chemically reacting minor constituent gases is also discussed.

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