Observational characteristics of double tropopauses

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Abstract

[1] Temperature profiles in the extratropics often exhibit multiple tropopauses (as defined using the lapse rate definition). In this work we study the observational characteristics of double tropopauses based on radiosondes, ERA40 reanalysis, and GPS radio occultation temperature profiles. Double tropopauses are associated with a characteristic break in the thermal tropopause near the subtropical jet, wherein the low latitude (tropical) tropopause extends to higher latitudes, overlying the lower tropopause; this behavior can extend to polar latitudes. Tropopause statistics derived from radiosondes and GPS data show good agreement, and GPS data allow mapping of double tropopause characteristics over the globe. The occurrence frequency shows a strong seasonal variation over NH midlatitudes, with ∼50–70% occurrence in profiles during winter, and a small fraction (∼10%) over most of the hemisphere during summer (with the exception of a localized maximum over the poleward flank of the Asian monsoon anticyclone). SH midlatitude statistics show a smaller seasonal variation, with occurrence frequencies of ∼30–50% over the year (maximum during winter). Over the extratropics, the occurrence frequency is substantially higher for cyclonic circulation systems. Few double tropopauses are observed in the tropics. Ozone measurements from balloons and satellites show that profiles with double tropopauses exhibit systematically less ozone in the lower stratosphere than those with a single tropopause. Together with the meteorological data, the ozone observations identify double tropopauses as regions of enhanced transport from the tropics to higher latitudes above the subtropical jet cores.

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