Tropopause altitude determination from temperature profile measurements of reduced vertical resolution

König, Nils; Braesicke, Peter; von Clarmann, Thomas

Inference of the lapse rate tropopause or the cold point from temperature profiles of finite vertical resolution entails an uncertainty of the tropopause altitude. For tropical radiosonde profiles the tropopause altitude inferred from coarse-grid profiles was found to be lower than that inferred from the original profiles. The mean (median) displacements of the lapse rate tropopause altitude when inferred from a temperature profile of 3 km vertical resolution and a Gaussian kernel are −130, −400, −730, and −590 m (−70, −230, −390, and −280 m) for Nairobi, Hilo, Munich, and Greifswald, respectively. In the case of a Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) averaging kernel, the displacement of the lapse rate tropopause altitude is −640 m. The mean (median) displacement of the cold point tropopause inferred from a temperature profile of 3 km vertical resolution (Gaussian kernels) was found to be −510, −610, −530, and −390 m (−460, −510, −370, and −280 m) for the stations mentioned above. Unsurprisingly, the tropopause altitude displacement is larger for coarser resolutions. The effect of the tropopause displacement on the water vapor saturation mixing ratio is roughly proportional to the vertical resolution. In tropical latitudes the resulting error is about 1 to 2 ppmv per vertical resolution in kilometers. The spread of the tropopause displacements within each sample of profiles seems too large as to recommend a correction scheme for tropical temperature profiles, while for midlatitudinal temperature profiles of vertical resolutions of 1 to 5 km a lapse rate of −1.3 K km−1 reproduces tropopause altitudes determined from high-resolution temperature profiles with the nominal lapse rate criterion of −2 K km−1 fairly well.

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König, Nils / Braesicke, Peter / von Clarmann, Thomas: Tropopause altitude determination from temperature profile measurements of reduced vertical resolution. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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