Clouds and trace gas distributions during TRACE-P

Authors


Abstract

[1] This paper addresses the question: To what extent do trace gas distributions correspond to cloudiness? Observations taken during NASA's TRACE-P experiment indicate that there can be statistically significant differences in trace gas concentrations between clear-sky and cloudy areas. During the TRACE-P mission, frontal outflow of Asian emissions from the Pacific Rim to the western, North Pacific was sampled by NASA's DC-8 and P-3B aircraft. On several occasions, enhanced CO mixing ratios were observed in and around frontal clouds. A more detailed analysis of trace gas distributions revealed CO enhancements of 30% in the lower free troposphere (1–5 km) for cloudy regions as compared to clear areas. These enhancements exist within clouds as well as above and below clouds. In the upper free troposphere (5–11 km), overall enhancement in CO of 15% was observed although enhancements are mainly restricted to observations within clouds. These in-cloud observations were enhanced by factors of 1.5 to 2 over clear air data. Similar enhancements were seen for many other anthropogenic tracers. By contrast, distributions for O3 revealed no clear differences between cloudy and clear regions suggesting that other influences (e.g., stratosphere-troposphere exchange) might complicate any correspondence with local cloudiness. Expected cloud influences on oxidation chemistry were evident in enhanced OH concentrations above clouds and depressed OH below clouds. These findings are particularly relevant to current and future satellite investigations of the troposphere. Understanding the potential biases created by the inability to probe cloudy regions will improve the interpretation of regional and globally averaged satellite observations.