Aircraft observation of the seasonal variation in the transport of CO2 in the upper atmosphere



[1] A large number of in situ carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements from 5224 flights were taken by commercial airliners from 2005 to 2010. We analyzed the seasonal cycles in tropospheric CO2 in wide areas of the world over the Eurasian continent, the North Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. In the Northern Hemisphere, large seasonal changes of CO2 in the upper troposphere are found from spring through summer at northern midlatitudes to high latitudes with significant longitudinal differences; seasonally low CO2 mixing ratios are vertically transported from the surface over the Eurasian continent and then transported eastward to the North Pacific. In the Southern Hemisphere, the CO2 in the upper troposphere increases rapidly from April to June, indicating clearly the interhemispheric transport of high CO2 from the Northern Hemisphere winter. The rapid increase in the upper southern lower latitudes is equivalent to about 0.2 Pg increase in carbon. This interhemispheric transport should be adequately represented in general circulation models for source/sink estimates by inverse methods, because it is comparable to the seasonal or net fluxes estimated for a current inversion area size or a typical subcontinental domain. Estimation for transport of CO2 through the high altitudes will be more important than ever with increasing data from aircraft observations.