On the attribution of stratospheric ozone and temperature changes to changes in ozone-depleting substances and well-mixed greenhouse gases
- Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A7, Canada
Abstract. The vertical profile of global-mean stratospheric temperature changes has traditionally represented an important diagnostic for the attribution of the cooling effects of stratospheric ozone depletion and CO2 increases. However, CO2-induced cooling alters ozone abundance by perturbing ozone chemistry, thereby coupling the stratospheric ozone and temperature responses to changes in CO2 and ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Here we untangle the ozone-temperature coupling and show that the attribution of global-mean stratospheric temperature changes to CO2 and ODS changes (which are the true anthropogenic forcing agents) can be quite different from the traditional attribution to CO2 and ozone changes. The significance of these effects is quantified empirically using simulations from a three-dimensional chemistry-climate model. The results confirm the essential validity of the traditional approach in attributing changes during the past period of rapid ODS increases, although we find that about 10% of the upper stratospheric ozone decrease from ODS increases over the period 1975–1995 was offset by the increase in CO2, and the CO2-induced cooling in the upper stratosphere has been somewhat overestimated. When considering ozone recovery, however, the ozone-temperature coupling is a first-order effect; fully 2/5 of the upper stratospheric ozone increase projected to occur from 2010–2040 is attributable to CO2 increases. Thus, it has now become necessary to base attribution of global-mean stratospheric temperature changes on CO2 and ODS changes rather than on CO2 and ozone changes.