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Pathways for Transport of Fire Generated Tracers to the Tropical Tropopause Layer as Determined by Aura MLS/TES and Other A-Train Measurements (2009-2011)

Project Summary

   Agricultural burning and forest fires have a significant influence on the chemical composition of the tropical tropopause layer (TTL, referred to as the layer between 200 hPa to 70 hPa) as well as radiative forcing of the climate system. As global surface temperature and land use increase, the risk of more extensive fire occurrence, particularly over tropical continents, would increase. Thus a clear understanding of convective and large-scale transport that carry fire produced tracers to the TTL is needed as part of the effort to determine the response of the atmospheric constitutes to global environmental change. The latter is one of the science questions highlighted by the NASA Earth Science Research Strategy for atmospheric composition research. The objectives of this project are to apply observations from the Aura MLS/TES in combination with other A-train satellite sensors to:

  • Characterize the pathways for mass transport that carry fire generated tracers to the TTL, with focus on the relative importance of these pathways for each tropical monsoon and oceanic region;

  • Characterize the links between the mass transport to the TTL and the dynamic structure of the convection over the tropics, and especially to explore the relative roles of cloud-base and lateral entrainment for convective transport to the TTL of fire generated tracers including aerosols.

   As previous Aura science team members, the investigators have developed skills and software systems needed to streamline the analysis of instantaneous Aura MLS, Aqua MODIS and AIRS, TRMM precipitation radar data, and the GMAO reanalysis for diagnosing the effect of convective transport on CO and water vapor in the tropopause layer and the lower stratosphere. For this project, we plan to add the Aura TES, CALIPSO CALIOP and CloudSat millimeter-wave radar to our data analysis system to simultaneously examine the occurrence of fire and aerosol optical depth, CO in the troposphere, vertical structures of aerosol layers and convective clouds, and changes of atmospheric composition and cirrus cloud in the TTL.

Central Questions

  • How is biomass burning pollutant transported to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere?

Recent presentations

   Rong Fu - Aura team meeting
   Lei Huang - JPL intern