Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

First Advisor

John C. Gille

Second Advisor

Cora E. Randall


The upper troposphere lower stratosphere (UTLS) is a region of minimum temperatures that contains the tropopause. As a transition region between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the UTLS contains various processes that facilitate stratosphere-troposphere exchange (STE) which can redistribute radiatively important species such as water vapor or ozone. One potential marker for STE is the double tropopause (DT). Therefore this study seeks to further understand how DTs form and how they could enhance the current understanding of some STE processes in the UTLS. Using data from the High Resolution Dynamic Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), a data set with high vertical and horizontal resolution, newly discovered DT structures are found over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that suggest a relationship between the DT and both storm tracks and Rossby waves. The association between DTs and storm tracks is examined by further analyzing the recently discovered and unexpected relationship between the DT and the tropopause inversion layer (TIL) in a developing baroclinic disturbance. Results show an increase in the number of DTs when the lapse rate of the extratropical TIL is less than -2°C/km, i.e. when the TIL is stronger and the local stability is higher. Composites of ERA-Interim DT profiles for three different TIL strengths shows that the vertical motion and relative vorticity both decrease as the TIL increases, which suggests the warm conveyor belt as a mechanism. This is investigated further with a case study analysis of a developing extratropical cyclone in the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, an analysis of DTs in relation to the large scale flow responsible for storm development shows a strong correlation between monthly Rossby wave activity, ozone laminae and DT variability. Further examination shows that if these waves break a DT will be found with a wave breaking event about 30% of the time in the eastern Pacific and eastern Atlantic oceans, both regions of poleward wave breaking. These results highlight a new and more complicated DT structure that is a product of both large scale dynamics and small scale vertical motions, thus adding new information to the current understanding of the UTLS.