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Publication Date

July 1997

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres



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Atmospheric Sciences | Climate | Meteorology


An analysis of over 4 years of Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) measurements of CH4, HF, O3, and zonal wind are used to study the influence of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) on constituent transport in the tropics. At the equator, spectral analysis of the Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) and Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) observations reveals QBO signals in constituent and temperature fields at altitudes between 20 and 45 km. Between these altitudes, the location of the maximum QBO amplitude roughly corresponds with the location of the largest vertical gradient in the constituent field. Thus, at 40 km where CH4 and HF have strong vertical gradients, QBO signals are correspondingly large, while at lower altitudes where the vertical gradients are weak, so are the QBO variations. Similarly, ozone, which is largely under dynamical control below 30 km in the tropics, has a strong QBO signal in the region of sharp vertical gradients (∼28 km) below the ozone peak. Above 35 km, annual and semi-annual variations are also found to be important components of the variability of long-lived tracers. Therefore, above 30 km, the variability in CH4 and HF at the equator is represented by a combination of semiannual, annual, and QBO timescales. A one-dimensional vertical transport model is used to further investigate the influence of annual and QBO variations on tropical constituent fields. QBO-induced vertical motions are calculated from observed high resolution Doppler imager (HRDI) zonal winds at the equator, while the mean annually varying tropical ascent rate is obtained from the Goddard two-dimensional model. Model simulations of tropical CH4 confirm the importance of both the annual cycle and the QBO in describing the HALOE CH4 observations above 30 km. Estimates of the tropical ascent rate and the variation due to the annual cycle and QBO are also discussed.


This article originally appeared in Journal of Geophysical Research : Atmospheres in Volume 102, Issue D14 and can be found online at this link.