Articles | Volume 17, issue 10
Research article
31 May 2017
Research article |  | 31 May 2017

Surface ozone in the Southern Hemisphere: 20 years of data from a site with a unique setting in El Tololo, Chile

Julien G. Anet, Martin Steinbacher, Laura Gallardo, Patricio A. Velásquez Álvarez, Lukas Emmenegger, and Brigitte Buchmann

Abstract. The knowledge of surface ozone mole fractions and their global distribution is of utmost importance due to the impact of ozone on human health and ecosystems and the central role of ozone in controlling the oxidation capacity of the troposphere. The availability of long-term ozone records is far better in the Northern than in the Southern Hemisphere, and recent analyses of the seven accessible records in the Southern Hemisphere have shown inconclusive trends. Since late 1995, surface ozone is measured in situ at "El Tololo", a high-altitude (2200 m a.s.l.) and pristine station in Chile (30° S, 71° W). The dataset has been recently fully quality controlled and reprocessed. This study presents the observed ozone trends and annual cycles and identifies key processes driving these patterns. From 1995 to 2010, an overall positive trend of  ∼  0.7 ppb decade−1 is found. Strongest trends per season are observed in March and April. Highest mole fractions are observed in late spring (October) and show a strong correlation with ozone transported from the stratosphere down into the troposphere, as simulated with a model. Over the 20 years of observations, the springtime ozone maximum has shifted to earlier times in the year, which, again, is strongly correlated with a temporal shift in the occurrence of the maximum of simulated stratospheric ozone transport at the site. We conclude that background ozone at El Tololo is mainly driven by stratospheric intrusions rather than photochemical production from anthropogenic and biogenic precursors. The major footprint of the sampled air masses is located over the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, due to the negligible influence of local processes, the ozone record also allows studying the influence of El Niño and La Niña episodes on background ozone levels in South America. In agreement with previous studies, we find that, during La Niña conditions, ozone mole fractions reach higher levels than during El Niño conditions.

Short summary
There are less long-term surface ozone measurements on the Southern than on the Northern Hemisphere, which makes it difficult to thoroughly understand global ozone chemistry. We have analyzed a new, 20-year-long ozone dataset measured at 2200 m asl at El Tololo, Chile, and show that the annual cycle of ozone is mainly driven by ozone transport from the stratosphere to the troposphere. As well, we illustrate that the timing of the annual maximum is regressing to earlier in the year.
Final-revised paper