Geofisica pura e applicata

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 137–158 | Cite as

The transport of trace substances in the atmosphere and their implications for the general circulation of the stratosphere

  • Reginald E. Newell


Considerations concerning the distribution of artificial radioactive substances in the troposphere point to the occurrence of stratospheric-tropospheric exchange in the region of the discontinuity between the tropical and middle latitude tropopause. Computations of the horizontal flux of ozone in the lower stratosphere and examination of the distribution of the tracer tungsten 185 in the stratosphere suggest that the trace substances are transported northwards from the tropical stratosphere by the action of transient eddy processes in which northward moving parcels of air are sinking and southward moving parcels are rising. The amount of ozone transported varies seasonally and is a maximum in the late winter and spring. The total transport appears sufficient to account for the observed spring build-up of ozone in middle and high latitudes. The eddies invoked are shown to be consistent with the observed countergradient transport of heat in the lower stratosphere, the pattern of stratospheric isentropes and the covariance values found from meridional and vertical velocities. The combined results indicate a new view concerning the mechanics of stratospheric motions as contrasted with the classical ideas of mean meridional motions.


Lower Stratosphere Transient Eddy Trace Substance Horizontal Flux Meridional Motion 
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Erwägungen im Hinblick auf die Verteilung künstlicher radio-aktiver Bestandteile in der Troposphäre deuten auf das Auftreten von stratosphärischem-troposphärischem Austausch in der Diskontinuäts-Zone zwischen der tropischen und mittleren Breite in der «Tropopause». Berechnungen des horizontalen Einfliessens des Ozons in der niedrigeren Stratosphäre und Untersuchung der Verteilung des Spurmaterials Wolfram 185 in der Stratosphäre deuten darauf hin, dass die Spuren-Bestandteile nordwärts transportiert werden von der tropischen Stratosphäre durch die Wirkung vorübergehender Wirbel-Prozesse; die Luftmassen, die sich in nördlicher Richtung bewegen, sinken, die in südlicher Bewegung, steigen. Der transportierte Ozon-Gehalt wechselt mit der Jahreszeit, ist maximal spät in Winter und Frühjahr. Der gesamte Transport erscheint genügend, um den beobachteten Frühjahrs-Zuwachs von Ozon in den mittleren und höheren Breitegraden zu rechtfertingen. Die in Betracht kommenden Wirbel scheinen in Übereinstimmung zu sein mit dem beobachtetem Hitze-Transport in der niedrigen Stratosphäre entgegen dem Aufstieg, mit dem üblichen Verlauf der stratosphärischen Isotropen und den Werten, die für die Co-Varianten gefunden wurden von meridionalen und vertikalen Geschwindigkeiten. Die kombinierten Resultate geben einen neuen Einblick in den Mechanismus der strato-sphärischen Strömungen in Kontrast zu den klassischen Ideen einer durchschnittlichen meridionalen Strömung.


Des considérations concernant la distribution des substances radio-actives artificielles dans la troposphère indiquent l'occurrence d'un échange strato-sphérique-troposphérique dans la région de discontinuité entre les latitudes tropicales et centrales de la tropopause. Des computations du flux horizontal d'ozone dans la basse stratosphère et l'examen de la distribution du traceur tungstène 185 dans la stratosphère suggèrent que les trace-substances soient transportées vers le nord de la stratosphère tropicale par l'action des procès de tourbillon transitoire dans lequel les parcelles d'air mouvant vers le nord s'enfoncent et les parcelles mouvant vers le sud s'élèvent. Le total d'ozone transporté varie periodiquement et devient maximum pendant la fin de l'hiver et du printemps. Le transport total paraît suffisant à justifier l'élévation de l'ozone observée au printemps aux latitudes moyennes et supérieures. Les tourbillons invoqués se montrent consistant au contregradient du transport de chaleur observé dans la basse stratosphère, le modèle des isentropes et les valeurs covariées se trouvent dependre des vitesses méridionales et verticales. Les résultats combinés indiquent une nouvelle vue sur les mécaniques des mouvements stratosphériques contrastant des idées classiques aux mouvements moyens méridionaux.


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Copyright information

© Istituto Geofisico Italiano 1961

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reginald E. Newell
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge 39

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