Events called stratospheric ozone intrusions occur most often in spring and early summer, and can raise ground-level ozone concentrations in some areas to potentially unhealthy levels.
This visualization shows one such event that occurred on April 6, 2012. On that day, a fast-moving area of low pressure moved northeast across states in the Western U.S., clipping western and northern Colorado. Ozone-rich stratospheric air descended, folding into tropospheric air near the ground. Winds took hold of the air mass and pushed it in all directions, bringing stratospheric ozone to the ground in Colorado and along the Northern Front Range.
Atmospheric scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., set out to see if the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) Chemistry-Climate Model could replicate stratospheric ozone intrusions at 25-kilometer (16-mile) resolution. High-resolution models are possible due to computing power now capable of simulating the chemistry and movement of gasses and pollutants around the atmosphere and calculating their interactions.
They show that indeed, the model could replicate small-scale features, including finger-like filaments, within the apron of ozone-rich stratospheric air that descended over Colorado on April 6, 2012.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 220.127.116.11.0