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A case study analysis of the impact of a new free tropospheric turbulence scheme on the dispersion of an atmospheric tracer

Mirza, A. K. ORCID:, Dacre, H. F. ORCID: and Lo, C. H. B. ORCID: (2024) A case study analysis of the impact of a new free tropospheric turbulence scheme on the dispersion of an atmospheric tracer. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.4681


Most Lagrangian dispersion models represent free tropospheric turbulence as a homogeneous steady-state process. However, intermittent turbulent mixing in the free troposphere may be a significant source of mixing. We test anew parametrization scheme that represents spatial- and temporal-varying turbulence in the free troposphere in the Met Office’s Numerical Atmospheric-dispersion Modelling Environment. We use semi-idealized emissions of radon-222 (222Rn) from rocks and soil in the United Kingdom to evaluate the impact of using a variable free tropospheric turbulence parameterization on the dispersion of 222Rn. We performed two experiments, the first using the existing steady-state scheme and the second using the newly implemented spatio-temporal-varying scheme, for two case periods July 2018 and April 2021. We find that the turbulence in the varying scheme (represented by the vertical velocity variance) can range by two to three orders of magnitude (10−4to 10−1 m2 s−2) when compared with the steady-state scheme(10−2 m2 s−2). In particular, low-altitude turbulence is enhanced when synoptic conditions are conducive to forming low-level jets. This leads to a greater dispersion in the free troposphere, reducing the mean monthly 222Rn concentration above the boundary layer by 20–40% relative to the steady-state scheme. We conclude that without a space–time-varying free tropospheric turbulence scheme atmospheric dispersion may be significantly underestimated under synoptic conditions that are favourable for low-level jet formation. This underestimation of dispersion may potentially result in inaccurate estimations of local emissions in top-down greenhouse gas inventory studies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:116209
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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