Origin of Tropospheric Air Masses in the Tropical West Pacific identified by Balloon-borne Ozone and Water Vapor Measurements from Palau

katrin.mueller [ at ] awi.de


Motivated by previous measurements of very low tropospheric ozone concentrations in the Tropical West Pacific (TWP) and the implied low oxidizing capacity of this key region for transport into the stratosphere (e.g. Rex et al. 2014), we set up an atmospheric research station in Palau (7° N 134° E). Our analysis of regular balloon-borne tropospheric ozone observations at Palau from 01/2016-10/2019 confirms the year-round dominance of a low ozone background in the mid-troposphere. Layers of enhanced ozone are often anti-correlated with water vapor and occur frequently. Moreover, the occurrence of respective layers shows a strong seasonality. Dry and ozone-rich air masses between 5 and 10 km altitude were observed in 71 % of the profiles from February until April compared to 25 % from August until October. By defining monthly atmospheric background profiles for ozone and relative humidity based on observed statistics, we found that the deviations from this background reveal a bimodal distribution of RH anomalies. A previously proposed universal bimodal structure of free tropospheric ozone in the TWP could not be verified (Pan et al. 2015). Back trajectory calculations confirm that throughout the year the mid-tropospheric background is controlled by local convective processes and the origin of air masses is thus close to or East of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. Dry and ozone-rich air originates in tropical Asia and reaches Palau in anticyclonic conditions over an area stretching from India to the Philippines. This supports the hypothesis of several studies which attribute ozone enhancement against the low ozone background to remote pollution events on the ground such as biomass burning (e.g. Andersen et al. 2016). A potential vorticity analysis revealed no stratospheric influence and we thus propose large-scale descent within the tropical troposphere as responsible for dehydration of air masses on their way to Palau.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Event Details
AGU 2020 Fall Meeting.
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1002/essoar.10505805.1

Cite as
Müller, K. , von der Gathen, P. , Wohltmann, I. , Lehmann, R. and Rex, M. (2020): Origin of Tropospheric Air Masses in the Tropical West Pacific identified by Balloon-borne Ozone and Water Vapor Measurements from Palau , AGU 2020 Fall Meeting . doi: 10.1002/essoar.10505805.1

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