Three-Dimensional Evolution of Water Vapor Distributions in the Northern Hemisphere Stratosphere as Observed by the MLS

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  • 1 Centre for Global Atmospheric Modelling, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • | 3 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • | 4 Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory, Palo Alto, California
  • | 5 Department of Physics, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • | 6 The Meteorological Office, London, Bracknell, Berkshire, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The three-dimensional evolution of stratospheric water vapor distributions observed by the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) during the period October 1991–July 1992 is documented. The transport features inferred from the MLS water vapor distributions are corroborated using other dynamical fields, namely, nitrous oxide from the Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer instrument, analyzed winds from the U.K. Meteorological Office (UKMO), UKMO-derived potential vorticity, and the diabatic heating field. By taking a vortex-centered view and an along-track view, the authors observe in great detail the vertical and horizontal structure of the northern winter stratosphere. It is demonstrated that the water vapor distributions show clear signatures of the effects of diabatic descent through isentropic surfaces and quasi-horizontal transport along isentropic surfaces, and that the large-scale winter flow is organized by the interaction between the westerly polar vortex and the Aleutian high.

Abstract

The three-dimensional evolution of stratospheric water vapor distributions observed by the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) during the period October 1991–July 1992 is documented. The transport features inferred from the MLS water vapor distributions are corroborated using other dynamical fields, namely, nitrous oxide from the Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer instrument, analyzed winds from the U.K. Meteorological Office (UKMO), UKMO-derived potential vorticity, and the diabatic heating field. By taking a vortex-centered view and an along-track view, the authors observe in great detail the vertical and horizontal structure of the northern winter stratosphere. It is demonstrated that the water vapor distributions show clear signatures of the effects of diabatic descent through isentropic surfaces and quasi-horizontal transport along isentropic surfaces, and that the large-scale winter flow is organized by the interaction between the westerly polar vortex and the Aleutian high.

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