Several archived data sets have been reviewed to examine the relationship between mixing ratio variability and lifetime for hydrocarbon and halocarbon species in the troposphere and stratosphere. The dependence on lifetime was described by the power law relationship slnX = Aτ-b, where slnX is the standard deviation of the In of the mixing ratios, A is a proportionality coefficient, and b is an exponent that relates to the dominance of sink terms in the regional variability budget. At the Harvard forest ground site, winter and summer data displayed the same lifetime dependence, τ-0.18, which was significantly weaker than the τ-0.5 dependence of remote tropospheric data, indicating that source terms dominated regional variability at Harvard. In addition, the ratio of summer to winter slnX values was found to be similar for all species except ethane, averaging 1.54 ± 0.04. This ratio is consistent with a factor of 11 seasonal change in the species lifetimes, given a τ-0.18 lifetime dependence. Stratospheric data displayed a stronger lifetime dependence than tropospheric trends, indicating a more dominant role for sink terms in describing spatial variability in this region of the atmosphere. We show that a unique power law relationship between slnX ratios for two species Xi and Xj and the kinetic slope of ln(Xi) versus ln(Xj) correlation plots is found to hold in both observations and theory. Thus knowledge of the coefficient b allows for a clearer understanding of the relationship between observed slopes of ln(Xi) versus ln(Xj) correlation plots and the ratio of the species lifetimes. Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.