Reference : Comparison of mean age of air in five reanalyses using the BASCOE transport model
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
Comparison of mean age of air in five reanalyses using the BASCOE transport model
Chabrillat, S. [> >]
Vigouroux, C. [> >]
Christophe, Y. [> >]
Engel, A. [> >]
Errera, Q. [> >]
Minganti, D. [> >]
Monge-Sanz, B. M. [> >]
Segers, A. [> >]
Mahieu, Emmanuel mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département d'astrophys., géophysique et océanographie (AGO) > Groupe infra-rouge de phys. atmosph. et solaire (GIRPAS) >]
Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics Discussions
European Geosciences Union
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] atmospheric modeling ; atmospheric circulation ; age of air
[en] We present a consistent intercomparison of the mean Age of Air (AoA) according to five modern reanalyses: the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Interim Reanalysis (ERA-Interim), the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (JRA-55), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Modern Era Retrospective-analysis for Research Applications version 1 (MERRA) and version 2 (MERRA-2). The modeling tool is a kinematic transport model driven only by the surface pressure and wind fields. It is validated for ERA-I through a comparison with the AoA computed by another transport model. The five reanalyses deliver AoA which differ in the worst case by one year in the tropical lower stratosphere and more than two years in the upper stratosphere. At all latitudes and altitudes, MERRA-2 and MERRA provide the oldest values (~5-6 years in mid-stratosphere at mid-latitudes) while JRA-55 and CFSR provide the youngest values (~4 years) and ERA-I delivers intermediate results. The spread of AoA at 50 hPa is as large as the spread obtained in a comparison of Chemistry-Climate Models. The differences between tropical and mid-latitudes AoA are in better agreement except for MERRA-2. Compared with in-situ observations, they indicate that the upwelling is too fast in the tropical lower stratosphere. The general hierarchy of reanalyses delivering older AoA (MERRA, MERRA-2) and younger AoA (JRA-55, CFSR) holds during the whole 1989– 2015 period, with AoA derived from ERA-I keeping intermediate values. The spread between the five simulations in the northern mid-latitudes is as large as the observational uncertainties in a multidecadal time series of balloon observations, i.e., approximately two years. No global impact of the Pinatubo eruption can be found in our simulations of AoA, contrarily to a recent study which used a diabatic transport model driven by ERA-I and JRA-55 winds and heating rates. The time variations are also analyzed through multiple linear regression analyses taking into account the seasonal cycles, the Quasi-Biennal Oscillation and the linear trends over four time periods. The amplitudes of AoA seasonal variations in the lower stratosphere are significantly larger using MERRA and MERRA-2 than with the other reanalyses (up to twice as large at the 50 hPa pressure level). The linear trends of AoA using ERA-I confirm those found by earlier model studies, especially for the period 2002–2012 where the dipole structure of the latitude-height distribution (positive in the northern mid-stratosphere and negative in the southern mid-stratosphere) also matches trends derived from satellite observations of SF6. Yet the linear trends vary considerably depending on the considered period. Over 2002–2015 the ERA-I results still show a dipole structure but it is much less pronounced, with positive trends in the northern hemisphere remaining significant only in the polar lower stratosphere (where they reach 0.2 years per decade). No reanalysis other than ERA-I finds any dipole structure of AoA trends. The signs of the trends depend strongly on the input reanalysis and on the considered period, with values above 10 hPa varying between approximately -0.4 and 0.4 years per decade. Using ERA-I and CFSR, the 2002–2015 trends are negative above 10 hPa but using the three other reanalyses these trends are positive. Over the whole period 1989–2015 each reanalysis delivers opposite trends, i.e., AoA is mostly increasing with CFSR and ERA-I but mostly decreasing with MERRA, JRA-55 and MERRA-2. In view of these large disagreements, we urge great caution for studies aiming to assess AoA trends derived only from reanalysis winds.We briefly discuss some possible causes for the dependency of AoA on the input reanalysis and highlight the need for complementary intercomparisons using diabatic transport models.

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