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Statistical characterization of atmospheric water vapor transports using Aura and other measurements in support of Aura model validation and data assimilation (2006-2010)

Project Summary

   This project will develop statistical models through synergetic use of Aura and other observations to support the evaluation of Aura models and assimilation. We will focus on convective and isentropic transport processes, which are important for water vapor, but also for other chemical tracers originating from the surface. Special emphasis will be given to those open questions raised by research from the UARS, but that cannot be adequately addressed without the improved observational capabilities provided by Aura, such as its continuous measurements from 82S to 82N, their penetration down to the middle troposphere (500 hPa) and their overlap in time with TRMM PR, the MODIS and AIRS measurements. In doing this, we will emphasize the connection between the fields of several atmospheric constituents, in particular water vapor and CO, and transport or their source/sink through use of Aura and other satellite observations, and numerical models and assimilation products. The analyses will be designed to maximize their usefulness for support of the Aura model and assimilation. Specific foci will be given to the following questions:

  • How do vertical and microphysical structures of the convection influence the water vapor in local and downstream upper troposphere? How does natural monsoon variability and human induced environmental changes, such as drought and biomass burning, affect convective transport of water vapor? How well are these processes represented in the current NASA model and reanalysis products?

  • What are the relative contributions of tropical convective outflow, local convective transport and isentropic intrusions of the stratosphere air associated with Rossby wave breaking to changes of water vapor in the subtropical upper troposphere?

  • What is the relative importance of convective versus isentropic transport to the fast exchange between the troposphere and extratropical lowermost stratosphere?

  • How can we optimally extend the Aura observations by synergetic use of multiple satellite observations? How can we more effectively use these observations to support Aura modeling and assimilation activities?

   Aura MLS and HIRDLS measurements, in conjunction with TRMM PR, MODIS cloud and aerosols data and AIRS will be used to address these questions. Simulations by a mesoscale model with chemical transport model will be used to test the sensitivity of convective transport to large-scale atmospheric conditions. NCEP reanalysis and Goddard fast trajectory model, and possibly FvGCM and FvDAS will be used in this project.

Central Questions

  • Where are the source regions for moistening of the global stratosphere in boreal summer?


  • Convection over Tibetan Plateau is an importance source of water vapor for the global stratosphere during boreal summer.

Recent presentations

    Fu: Keynote at the International Conference of Tibetan Research
    Fu: Seminar at Harvard


Fu et al. 2006
   Wright et al. 2009