Articles | Volume 20, issue 6
30 Jun 2002
 | 30 Jun 2002

The Lagrangian structure of ozone mini-holes and potential vorticity anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere

P. M. James and D. Peters

Abstract. An ozone mini-hole is a synoptic-scale area of strongly reduced column total ozone, which undergoes a growth-decay cycle in association with baroclinic weather systems. The tracks of mini-hole events recorded during the TOMS observation period over the Northern Hemisphere provide a database for building anomaly fields of various meteorological parameters, following each mini-hole center in a Lagrangian sense. The resulting fields provide, for the first time, a complete mean Lagrangian picture of the three-dimensional structure of typical ozone mini-holes in the Northern Hemisphere. Mini-holes are shown to be associated with anomalous warm anticyclonic flow in the upper troposphere and cold cyclonic anomalies in the middle stratosphere. Ascending air columns occur upstream and descent downstream of the mini-hole centers. Band-pass filtering is used to reveal the transient synoptic nature of mini-holes embedded within larger scale circulation anomalies. Significant correlations between ozone and Ertel’s potential vorticity on isentropes (IPV) both near the tropopause and in the middle stratosphere are shown and then utilized by reconstructing the Lagrangian analysis to follow local IPV anomalies instead of ozone minima. By using IPV as a proxy for ozone, the geopotential anomaly dipolar structure in the vertical characteristic of mini-holes is shown to result from a superposition of two largely independent dynamical components, stratospheric and tropospheric, typically operating on different time scales. Hence, ozone mini-holes may be viewed primarily as phenomena of coincidence.

Key words. Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (middle atmosphere dynamics; synoptic-scale meteorology)