Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Chemical characteristics of Pacific tropospheric air in the region of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and South Pacific Convergence Zone

Authors

  • G. L. Gregory,

  • D. J. Westberg,

  • M. C. Shipham,

  • D. R. Blake,

  • R. E. Newell,

  • H. E. Fuelberg,

  • R. W. Talbot,

  • B. G. Heikes,

  • E. L. Atlas,

  • G. W. Sachse,

  • B. A. Anderson,

  • D. C. Thornton


Abstract

The Pacific Exploratory Mission (PEM)-Tropics provided extensive aircraft data to study the atmospheric chemistry of tropospheric air in Pacific Ocean regions, extending from Hawaii to New Zealand and from Fiji to east of Easter Island. This region, especially the tropics, includes some of the cleanest tropospheric air of the world and, as such, is important for studying atmospheric chemical budgets and cycles. The region also provides a sensitive indicator of the global-scale impact of human activity on the chemistry of the troposphere, and includes such important features as the Pacific “warm pool,” the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), and Walker Cell circulations. PEM-Tropics was conducted from August to October 1996. The ITCZ and SPCZ are major upwelling regions within the South Pacific and, as such, create boundaries to exchange of tropospheric air between regions to the north and south. Chemical data obtained in the near vicinity of the ITCZ and the SPCZ are examined. Data measured within the convergent zones themselves are not considered. The analyses show that air north and south of the convergent zones have different chemical signatures, and the signatures are reflective of the source regions and transport histories of the air. Air north of the ITCZ shows a modest urban/industrialized signature compared to air south of the ITCZ. The chemical signature of air south of the SPCZ is dominated by combustion emissions from biomass burning, while air north of the SPCZ is relatively clean and of similar composition to ITCZ south air. Chemical signature differences of air north and south of the zones are most pronounced at altitudes below 5 km, and, as such, show that the ITCZ and SPCZ are effective low-altitude barriers to the transport of tropospheric air. At altitudes of 8 to 10 km, chemical signatures are less dissimilar, and air backward trajectories (to 10 days) show cross-convergent-zone flow. At altitudes below about 5 km, little cross-zonal flow is observed. Chemical signatures presented include over 30 trace chemical species including ultrafine, fine, and heated-fine (250°C) aerosol.

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