The impact of temperature vertical structure on trajectory modeling of stratospheric water vapor Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. Lagrangian trajectories driven by reanalysis meteorological fields are frequently used to study water vapor (H2O) in the stratosphere, in which the tropical cold-point temperatures regulate the amount of H2O entering the stratosphere. Therefore, the accuracy of temperatures in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) is of great importance for understanding stratospheric H2O abundances. Currently, most reanalyses, such as the NASA MERRA (Modern Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications), only provide temperatures with ~ 1.2 km vertical resolution in the TTL, which has been argued to miss finer vertical structure in the tropopause and therefore introduce uncertainties in our understanding of stratospheric H2O. In this paper, we quantify this uncertainty by comparing the Lagrangian trajectory prediction of H2O using MERRA temperatures on standard model levels (traj.MER-T) to those using GPS temperatures at finer vertical resolution (traj.GPS-T), and those using adjusted MERRA temperatures with finer vertical structures induced by waves (traj.MER-Twave). It turns out that by using temperatures with finer vertical structure in the tropopause, the trajectory model more realistically simulates the dehydration of air entering the stratosphere. But the effect on H2O abundances is relatively minor: compared with traj.MER-T, traj.GPS-T tends to dry air by ~ 0.1 ppmv, while traj.MER-Twave tends to dry air by 0.20.3 ppmv. Despite these differences in absolute values of predicted H2O and vertical dehydration patterns, there is virtually no difference in the interannual variability in different runs. Overall, we find that a tropopause temperature with finer vertical structure has limited impact on predicted stratospheric H2O.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, T., Dessler, A. E., Schoeberl, M. R., Randel, W. J., & Kim, J.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Wang, T||Dessler, AE||Schoeberl, MR||Randel, WJ||Kim, J-E

publication date

  • March 2015