Articles | Volume 17, issue 19
Research article
12 Oct 2017
Research article |  | 12 Oct 2017

Multi-decadal records of stratospheric composition and their relationship to stratospheric circulation change

Anne R. Douglass, Susan E. Strahan, Luke D. Oman, and Richard S. Stolarski

Abstract. Constituent evolution for 1990–2015 simulated using the Global Modeling Initiative chemistry and transport model driven by meteorological fields from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) is compared with three sources of observations: ground-based column measurements of HNO3 and HCl from two stations in the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC, ∼ 1990–ongoing), profiles of CH4 from the Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS, 1992–2005), and profiles of N2O from the Microwave Limb Sounder on the Earth Observing System satellite Aura (2005–ongoing). The differences between observed and simulated values are shown to be time dependent, with better agreement after ∼ 2000 compared with the prior decade. Furthermore, the differences between observed and simulated HNO3 and HCl columns are shown to be correlated with each other, suggesting that issues with the simulated transport and mixing cause the differences during the 1990s and that these issues are less important during the later years. Because the simulated fields are related to mean age in the lower stratosphere, we use these comparisons to evaluate the time dependence of mean age. The ongoing NDACC column observations provide critical information necessary to substantiate trends in mean age obtained using fields from MERRA-2 or any other reanalysis products.

Short summary
Data records from instruments on satellites and on the ground are compared with a simulation for 1980–2016 that is made using winds and temperatures that are derived from measurements. The simulation tracks the observations faithfully after about 2000, but there are systematic errors for earlier years. Scientists must take this into account when trying to detect and quantify changes in the stratospheric circulation that are caused by climate change.
Final-revised paper