Chemical transport across the ITCZ in the central Pacific during an El Niño-Southern Oscillation cold phase event in March-April 1999


  • Melody A. Avery,

  • David J. Westberg,

  • Henry E. Fuelberg,

  • Reginald E. Newell,

  • Bruce E. Anderson,

  • Stephanie A. Vay,

  • Glen W. Sachse,

  • Donald R. Blake


We examine interhemispheric transport processes that occurred over the central Pacific during the PEM-Tropics B mission (PTB) in March-April 1999 by correlating the observed distribution of chemical tracers with the prevailing and anomalous windfields. The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) had a double structure during PTB, and interhemispheric mixing occurred in the equatorial region between ITCZ branches. The anomalously strong tropical easterly surface wind had a large northerly component across the equator in the central Pacific, causing transport of aged, polluted air into the Southern Hemisphere (SH) at altitudes below 4 km. Elevated concentrations of chemical tracers from the Northern Hemisphere (NH) measured south of the equator in the central Pacific during PTB may represent an upper limit because the coincidence of seasonal and cold phase ENSO conditions are optimum for this transport. Stronger and more consistent surface convergence between the northeasterly and southeasterly trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) resulted in more total convective activity in the SH branch of the ITCZ, at about 6°S. The middle troposphere between 4–7 km was a complex shear zone between prevailing northeasterly winds at low altitudes and southwesterly winds at higher altitudes. Persistent anomalous streamline patterns and the chemical tracer distribution show that during PTB most transport in the central Pacific was from SH to NH across the equator in the upper troposphere. Seasonal differences in source strength caused larger interhemispheric gradients of chemical tracers during PTB than during the complementary PEM-Tropics A mission in September-October 1996.