Articles | Volume 9, issue 13
03 Jul 2009
 | 03 Jul 2009

Reassessment of causes of ozone column variability following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo using a nudged CCM

P. Telford, P. Braesicke, O. Morgenstern, and J. Pyle

Abstract. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo produced the largest loading of stratospheric sulphate aerosol in the twentieth century. This heated the tropical lower stratosphere, affecting stratospheric circulation, and provided enhanced surface area for heterogeneous chemistry. These factors combined to produce record low values of "global" total ozone column. Though well studied, there remains some uncertainty about the attribution of this low ozone, with contributions from both chemical and dynamical effects. We take a complementary approach to previous studies, nudging the potential temperature and horizontal winds in the new UKCA chemistry climate model to reproduce the atmospheric response and assess the impact on global total ozone. We then combine model runs and observations to distinguish between chemical and dynamical effects. To estimate the effects of increased heterogeneous chemistry on ozone we compare runs with volcanically enhanced and background surface aerosol density. The modelled depletion of global ozone peaks at about 7 DU in early 1993, in good agreement with values obtained from observations. We subtract the modelled aerosol induced ozone loss from the observed ozone record and attribute the remaining variability to `dynamical' effects. The remaining variability is dominated by the QBO. We also examine tropical and mid-latitude ozone, diagnosing contributions from El Niño in the tropics and identifying dynamically driven low ozone in northern mid-latitudes, which we interpret as possible evidence of changes in the QBO. We conclude that, on a global scale, the record lows of extra-polar ozone are produced by the increased heterogeneous chemistry, although there is evidence for dynamics produced low ozone in certain regions, including northern mid-latitudes.

Final-revised paper