Estimating the average time for inter-continental transport of air pollutants

Junfeng Liu, Denise L. Mauzerall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We estimate the average time required for intercontinental transport of atmospheric tracers based on simulations with the global chemical tracer model MOZART-2 driven with NCEP meteorology. We represent the average transport time by a ratio of the concentration of two tracers with different lifetimes. We find that average transport times increase with tracer lifetimes. With tracers of 1-and 2-week lifetimes the average transport time from East Asia (EA) to the surface of western North America (NA) in April is 2-3 weeks, approximately a half week longer than transport from NA to western Europe (EU) and from EU to EA. We develop an 'equivalent circulation' method to estimate a timescale which has little dependence on tracer lifetimes and obtain similar results to those obtained with short-lived tracers. Our findings show that average inter-continental transport times, even for tracers with short lifetimes, are on average 1-2 weeks longer than rapid transport observed in plumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 16 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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