Dynamical aspects of stratosphere-troposphere exchange. Courtesy of J.R. Holton.
The middle atmosphere (stratosphere and mesosphere) is the region of the atmosphere between about 12 and 80 km altitude. Studies of dynamical and chemical processes in this region have greatly expanded in recent years owing to the impact of human activities on the stratospheric ozone layer, and the coupling between stratospheric changes and surface climate. The University of Washington has a distinguished record of research on the meteorology of the middle atmosphere. Research efforts are divided between analysis of observational data and theoretical studies based on numerical models. A primary area of emphasis is study of the dynamical interactions between the troposphere and the stratosphere, including the transfer of momentum and trace constituents across the tropopause. This effort requires understanding of the influence of both large- and small-scale wave motions on the momentum balance and mass circulation of the middle atmosphere. Members of the department are active in analysis and interpretation of middle atmosphere data from NASA research satellites. Students and faculty also employ a variety of models, ranging from global scale circulation models to mesoscale convective storm models, to study the links between the troposphere and the stratosphere.