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On the linkage between the Asian summer monsoon and tropopause fold activity over the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East


Lelieveld,  Jos
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Tyrlis, E., Škerlak, B., Sprenger, M., Wernli, H., Zittis, G., & Lelieveld, J. (2014). On the linkage between the Asian summer monsoon and tropopause fold activity over the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 119(6), 3202-3221. doi:10.1002/2013JD021113.

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A climatology of tropopause folds occurring over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) has been established using the ERA-Interim reanalyses for the years 1979-2012. The methodology employs an algorithm that detects folds at grid points where the vertical profile features multiple crossings of the dynamical tropopause and allows their classification according to their vertical extent. Our results confirm the findings of an earlier 1 year climatology that recognized a global "hot spot" of summertime fold activity between the eastern Mediterranean and central Asia, in the vicinity of the subtropical jet. Two distinct maxima of activity are identified over Turkey and Iran-Afghanistan where fold frequency exceeds 25%. Occasionally, medium and deep folds form over the two regions at surprisingly low latitudes. This summertime peak in fold activity diverges from the zonal mean seasonal cycle over the subtropics and is driven by the South Asian Monsoon. Starting in late spring, the EMME is gradually brought under the influence of the zonally asymmetric background state induced by the monsoon. As areas of sharply sloping isentropes develop especially over the eastern Mediterranean and Iran-Afghanistan, subsidence and fold formation are favored. Further investigation of the reanalysis data provided empirical evidence that the monsoon also drives the interannual variability of EMME fold activity. An upward trend in fold activity is identified, especially in May, attributed to the recent advanced monsoon onset and the deepening convective activity throughout summer, which promotes upper-level baroclinicity over the EMME and favors folding.