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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Chemistry of the global troposphere: Fluorocarbons as tracers of air motion


Winds and convective mixing from a general circulation model of the atmosphere have been applied in a chemical tracer model (CTM) to simulate the global distribution and temporal variability of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The seasonal cycle in moist convection, with maximum activity over continents in summer, leads to an annual cycle in the surface concentration of CFCs. Emissions are retained in the lowest levels of the atmosphere during winter, and surface concentrations peak near sources. In this season, CFCs from European sources are carried by low-level winds into the Arctic. During summer, vertical exchange is more efficient, and pollutants are transported more rapidly to the middle atmosphere. Consequently, concentrations of CFCs during summer are relatively low near the surface and elevated in the middle troposphere. Time series analysis of data from Adrigole, Ireland, indicates that the model accurately simulates long-range transport of air pollution. The model reproduces global distributions and trends for CFC-11 and CFC-12 observed by the ALE experiment; however, subgrid diffusion must be introduced into the model in order to reproduce the observed interhemispheric gradient. Interhemispheric exchange occurs mainly in the upper tropical troposphere, producing a profile which increases with altitude in the southern hemisphere, in agreement with observations. The distribution of CFCs is such that it is necessary to apply important corrections to observations at surface stations in order to derive global distributions.

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