Characteristics of atmospheric transport into the Arctic troposphere

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Abstract

[1] The Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART was used to construct a global data set of 1.4 million continuous trajectories. At the model start, particles were distributed homogeneously in the atmosphere and were then transported for 5.5 years using both resolved winds from European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analyses and parameterized turbulent and convective transport. On the basis of this data set, a climatology of transport in and to the Arctic was developed. It was found that the time air resides continuously north of 70°N, called its Arctic age, is highest near the surface in the North American sector of the Arctic. North of 80°N and near the surface, the mean Arctic age of air is about 1 week in winter and 2 weeks in summer. It decreases rapidly with altitude to about 3 days in the upper troposphere. In the most isolated regions of the Arctic, air is exposed to continuous darkness for, on average, 10–14 days in December. Transport from the stratosphere to the lower troposphere is much slower in the Arctic than in the middle latitudes. In the central Arctic, for instance, the probability that air near the surface was transported from the stratosphere within 10 days is only about 1% in winter and 0.3% in summer. Air pollution can be transported into the Arctic along three different pathways: low-level transport followed by ascent in the Arctic, low-level transport alone, and uplift outside the Arctic, followed by descent in the Arctic. Only this last pathway is frequent for pollution originating from North America and Asia, whereas European pollution can follow all three pathways in winter, and pathways one and three in summer. Sensitivities of Arctic air masses to emissions of air pollutants, based on transport alone, were calculated for times of up to 30 days before the air masses reached the Arctic. They were highest over Siberia and Europe in winter and over the oceans in summer. Using an inventory for anthropogenic black carbon (BC) emissions, it was found that near the surface and for transport timescales of 5 and 10 days, BC source contributions from south Asia are only 1.6% and 10%, respectively, of the corresponding European values, despite much higher emissions in south Asia. Using an inventory for BC emissions from forest fires, BC source contributions to the Arctic, particularly from fires in Siberia, were larger than anthropogenic BC source contributions in summer in years of average burning.

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