Articles | Volume 10, issue 18
20 Sep 2010
 | 20 Sep 2010

Quantifying the contributions to stratospheric ozone changes from ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases

D. A. Plummer, J. F. Scinocca, T. G. Shepherd, M. C. Reader, and A. I. Jonsson

Abstract. A state-of-the-art chemistry climate model coupled to a three-dimensional ocean model is used to produce three experiments, all seamlessly covering the period 1950–2100, forced by different combinations of long-lived Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs). The experiments are designed to quantify the separate effects of GHGs and ODSs on the evolution of ozone, as well as the extent to which these effects are independent of each other, by alternately holding one set of these two forcings constant in combination with a third experiment where both ODSs and GHGs vary. We estimate that up to the year 2000 the net decrease in the column amount of ozone above 20 hPa is approximately 75% of the decrease that can be attributed to ODSs due to the offsetting effects of cooling by increased CO2. Over the 21st century, as ODSs decrease, continued cooling from CO2 is projected to account for more than 50% of the projected increase in ozone above 20 hPa. Changes in ozone below 20 hPa show a redistribution of ozone from tropical to extra-tropical latitudes with an increase in the Brewer-Dobson circulation. In addition to a latitudinal redistribution of ozone, we find that the globally averaged column amount of ozone below 20 hPa decreases over the 21st century, which significantly mitigates the effect of upper stratospheric cooling on total column ozone. Analysis by linear regression shows that the recovery of ozone from the effects of ODSs generally follows the decline in reactive chlorine and bromine levels, with the exception of the lower polar stratosphere where recovery of ozone in the second half of the 21st century is slower than would be indicated by the decline in reactive chlorine and bromine concentrations. These results also reveal the degree to which GHG-related effects mute the chemical effects of N2O on ozone in the standard future scenario used for the WMO Ozone Assessment. Increases in the residual circulation of the atmosphere and chemical effects from CO2 cooling more than halve the increase in reactive nitrogen in the mid to upper stratosphere that results from the specified increase in N2O between 1950 and 2100.

Final-revised paper