A Match-based approach to the estimation of polar stratospheric ozone loss using Aura Microwave Limb Sounder observations
Abstract. The well-established "Match" approach to quantifying chemical destruction of ozone in the polar lower stratosphere is applied to ozone observations from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) on NASA's Aura spacecraft. Quantification of ozone loss requires distinguishing transport- and chemically induced changes in ozone abundance. This is accomplished in the Match approach by examining cases where trajectories indicate that the same air mass has been observed on multiple occasions. The method was pioneered using ozonesonde observations, for which hundreds of matched ozone observations per winter are typically available. The dense coverage of the MLS measurements, particularly at polar latitudes, allows matches to be made to thousands of observations each day. This study is enabled by recently developed MLS Lagrangian trajectory diagnostic (LTD) support products. Sensitivity studies indicate that the largest influence on the ozone loss estimates are the value of potential vorticity (PV) used to define the edge of the polar vortex (within which matched observations must lie) and the degree to which the PV of an air mass is allowed to vary between matched observations. Applying Match calculations to MLS observations of nitrous oxide, a long-lived tracer whose expected rate of change is negligible on the weekly to monthly timescales considered here, enables quantification of the impact of transport errors on the Match-based ozone loss estimates. Our loss estimates are generally in agreement with previous estimates for selected Arctic winters, though indicating smaller losses than many other studies. Arctic ozone losses are greatest during the 2010/11 winter, as seen in prior studies, with 2.0 ppmv (parts per million by volume) loss estimated at 450 K potential temperature (~ 18 km altitude). As expected, Antarctic winter ozone losses are consistently greater than those for the Arctic, with less interannual variability (e.g., ranging between 2.3 and 3.0 ppmv at 450 K). This study exemplifies the insights into atmospheric processes that can be obtained by applying the Match methodology to a densely sampled observation record such as that from Aura MLS.