Impact of Changes in Climate and Halocarbons on Recent Lower Stratosphere Ozone and Temperature Trends

Jean-François Lamarque Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Chemical Sciences Division, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

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Susan Solomon Chemical Sciences Division, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

The primary focus of this paper is the analysis of the roles of long-term increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and sea surface temperatures (used as indicators of climate change) and man-made halocarbons (indicators of chemical ozone depletion linked to halogens) in explaining the observed trend of ozone in the tropical lower stratosphere and implications for related variables including temperature and tropopause height. Published estimates indicate a decrease of approximately 10% in observed ozone concentrations in this region between 1979 and 2005. Using a coupled chemistry–climate atmosphere model forced by observed sea surface temperatures and surface concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases and halocarbons, the authors show that the simulations display substantial decreases in tropical ozone that compare well in both latitudinal and vertical structure with those observed. Based on sensitivity simulations, the analysis indicates that the decreases in the lower stratospheric (85–50 hPa) tropical ozone distribution are mostly associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures, in contrast to those at higher latitudes, which are largely driven by halocarbon increases. Factors influencing temperature trends and tropopause heights in this region are also probed. It is shown that the modeled temperature trends in the lower tropical stratosphere are also associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures. Following the analysis of lower stratospheric tropical temperature trends, the secondary focus of this paper is on related changes in tropopause height. Much of the simulated tropopause rise in the tropical zone as measured by tropopause height is found to be linked to increases in sea surface temperatures and CO2, while increases in halocarbons dominate the tropopause height changes in the subtropics near 30°; both drivers thus affect different regions of the simulated changes in the position of the tropopause. Finally, it is shown that halocarbon increases dominate the changes in the width of the region where modeled total ozone displays tropical character (as indicated by low values of the column abundance). Hence the findings suggest that climate changes and halocarbon changes make different contributions to different metrics used to characterize tropical change.

Corresponding author address: Jean-François Lamarque, Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: lamar@ucar.edu

Abstract

The primary focus of this paper is the analysis of the roles of long-term increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and sea surface temperatures (used as indicators of climate change) and man-made halocarbons (indicators of chemical ozone depletion linked to halogens) in explaining the observed trend of ozone in the tropical lower stratosphere and implications for related variables including temperature and tropopause height. Published estimates indicate a decrease of approximately 10% in observed ozone concentrations in this region between 1979 and 2005. Using a coupled chemistry–climate atmosphere model forced by observed sea surface temperatures and surface concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases and halocarbons, the authors show that the simulations display substantial decreases in tropical ozone that compare well in both latitudinal and vertical structure with those observed. Based on sensitivity simulations, the analysis indicates that the decreases in the lower stratospheric (85–50 hPa) tropical ozone distribution are mostly associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures, in contrast to those at higher latitudes, which are largely driven by halocarbon increases. Factors influencing temperature trends and tropopause heights in this region are also probed. It is shown that the modeled temperature trends in the lower tropical stratosphere are also associated with increases in CO2 and sea surface temperatures. Following the analysis of lower stratospheric tropical temperature trends, the secondary focus of this paper is on related changes in tropopause height. Much of the simulated tropopause rise in the tropical zone as measured by tropopause height is found to be linked to increases in sea surface temperatures and CO2, while increases in halocarbons dominate the tropopause height changes in the subtropics near 30°; both drivers thus affect different regions of the simulated changes in the position of the tropopause. Finally, it is shown that halocarbon increases dominate the changes in the width of the region where modeled total ozone displays tropical character (as indicated by low values of the column abundance). Hence the findings suggest that climate changes and halocarbon changes make different contributions to different metrics used to characterize tropical change.

Corresponding author address: Jean-François Lamarque, Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: lamar@ucar.edu

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