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A study of the free tropospheric humidity interannual variability using Meteosat data and an advection-condensation transport model

Hélène Brogniez 1 Rémy Roca 2 Laurence Picon 2
1 SPACE - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : Water vapor in the midtroposphere is an important element for the earth radiation budget. Despite its importance, the relative humidity in the free troposphere is not very well documented, mainly because of the difficulties associated with its measurements. A new long-term archive of free tropospheric humidity (FTH) derived from the water vapor channel of the Meteosat satellite from 1983 to 2005 is introduced. Special attention is dedicated to the long-term homogeneity and the definition of the retrieval layer. It is shown to complement the existing databases and is used to establish the climatology of FTH. Interannual variability is then evaluated for each season by using a normalized interannual standard deviation. This normalization approach reveals the importance of the relative variability of the dry areas to the moist regions. In consequence, emphasis is on the driest area of the region. Focusing on composites of the moist and dry seasons of the time series, the authors demonstrate that the 500-hPa relative humidity field, reconstructed using an idealized Lagrangian model, is a good proxy for the FTH variability there. The analysis of the origin of the air mass, using the back trajectory model, points out that lateral mixing between the deep tropics and extratropical latitudes takes place over this area, as advocated in previous theoretical studies. Systematic estimation of this large-scale mixing shows that, indeed, a significant part of the interannual variability of the free tropospheric humidity in this subtropical region stems from the amount of mixing of air originating from the deep tropics versus extratropical latitudes. The importance of this mechanism in the general understanding of the FTH distribution and variability is then discussed.
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Hélène Brogniez, Rémy Roca, Laurence Picon. A study of the free tropospheric humidity interannual variability using Meteosat data and an advection-condensation transport model. Journal of Climate, American Meteorological Society, 2009, 22 (24), pp.6773-6787. ⟨10.1175/2009JCLI2963.1⟩. ⟨hal-00408503⟩

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