The width of the tropical belt has been analyzed with a variety of metrics, often based on zonal-mean data from reanalyses. However, constraining the global and regional tropical width requires both a global spatial-resolving observational dataset and an appropriate metric to take advantage of such data. The tropical tropopause break is arguably such a metric. This study aims to evaluate the performance of different reanalyses and metrics with a focus on depicting regional tropical belt width. We choose four distinct tropopause-break metrics derived from global positioning system radio occultation (GPS-RO) satellite data and four modern reanalyses (ERA-Interim, MERRA-2, JRA-55, and CFSR). We show that reanalyses generally reproduce the regional tropical tropopause break to within 10° of that in GPS-RO data—but that the tropical width is somewhat sensitive (within 4°) to how data are averaged zonally, moderately sensitive (within 10°) to the dataset resolution, and more sensitive (20° over the Northern Hemisphere Atlantic Ocean during June–August) to the choice of metric. Reanalyses capture the poleward displacement of the tropical tropopause break over land and equatorward displacement over ocean during summertime, and the reverse during the wintertime. Reanalysis-based tropopause breaks are also generally well correlated with those from GPS-RO, although CFSR reproduces 14-yr trends much more closely than others (including ERA-Interim). However, it is hard to say which dataset is the best match of GPS-RO. We further find that the tropical tropopause break is representative of the subtropical jet latitude and the Northern Hemisphere edge of the Hadley circulation in terms of year-to-year variations.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 7451 to 7472
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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