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Atmospheric Composition

Tropical waves and convection govern the distributions of clouds, water vapor, and other trace constituents in the tropical Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere (UTLS). This region is the source of air for the stratospheric ozone layer, so understanding these distributions has global implications for how atmospheric composition is changing. We propose a four-year program of research on waves and convection as they affect the tropical UTLS using observations from Space and NASA aircraft, and modeling. We will also maintain a meteorological support capability for NASA airborne field missions. Waves with large temperature perturbations form thin cirrus clouds in the tropical UTLS, which are a primary mechanism for dehydrating air as it rises into the tropical stratosphere. However, detailed microphysical cloud simulations show disagreements with CALIPSO cloud measurements, indicating an incomplete understanding of where and how tropical waves form UTLS clouds. We will use newly available temperature measurements from the HIgh Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) and COSMIC Global Positioning System Radio Occultations (GPSRO), and measurements from NASA aircraft missions as inputs to detailed models. Comparison of model simulations with CALIPSO cloud and MLS water vapor measurements will yield an understanding of how waves affect the flux of water into the ozone layer. Convection quickly moves air from the surface into the tropical UTLS, with important effects on ozone, water vapor, and other constituents. Using back trajectory analysis, combined with meteorological satellite data, a newly available combined rainfall satellite product (TRMM, AMSU), and CALIPSO data, we will evaluate the age of air since convection and the location of the convection for air sampled by aircraft. This information is essential for synthesizing an understanding of atmospheric chemistry and physics from sparse aircraft observations. Our group has provided meteorological support for airborne field missions since 1987, including meteorological planning, mission support, and post-mission work. As part of the proposed work, we will provide meteorological guidance and context for aircraft missions addressing UTLS composition. This work uses satellite data (NASA Strategic Subgoal 3A) to address Atmospheric Composition Focus Area questions: (1) How is atmospheric composition changing?; and (2) How do atmospheric trace constituents respond to global environmental change? We address the NASA Science Question: What are the primary causes of change in the Earth System?; and the NASA Research Objective of understanding the predictive capability for changes in the ozone layer.

Project PI: Leonhard Pfister/NASA/Ames Research Center

500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001

Phone: (415) 604-3183

Email: pfister@telsci.arc.nasa.govĀ 

http://nrc58.nas.edu/aodir/gen_page.asp?mode=detail&sql;=idnumber='760899'

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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 10, 2010

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