Very high stratospheric influence observed in the free troposphere over the northern Alps – just a local phenomenon?
The atmospheric composition is strongly influenced by a change in atmospheric dynamics, which is potentially related to climate change. A prominent example is the doubling of the stratospheric ozone component at the Zugspitze summit station (2962 m a.s.l., Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany) between the mid-seventies and 2005, roughly from 11 to 23 ppb (43 %). Systematic efforts for identifying and quantifying this influence have been made since the late 1990s. Meanwhile, routine lidar measurements of ozone and water vapour carried out at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (German Alps) since 2007, combined with in situ and radiosonde data and trajectory calculations, have revealed that stratospheric intrusion layers are present on 84 % of the yearly measurement days. At Alpine summit stations the frequency of intrusions exhibits a seasonal cycle with a pronounced summer minimum that is reproduced by the lidar measurements. The summer minimum disappears if one looks at the free troposphere as a whole. The mid- and upper-tropospheric intrusion layers seem to be dominated by very long descent on up to hemispheric scale in an altitude range starting at about 4.5 km a.s.l. Without interfering air flows, these layers remain very dry, typically with RH ≤5 % at the centre of the intrusion. Pronounced ozone maxima observed above Garmisch-Partenkirchen have been mostly related to a stratospheric origin rather than to long-range transport from remote boundary layers. Our findings and results for other latitudes seem to support the idea of a rather high contribution of ozone import from the stratosphere to tropospheric ozone.