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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  29 Sep 2020

29 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Observational evidence of EPP–NOx interaction with chlorine curbing Antarctic ozone loss

Emily M. Gordon1, Annika Seppälä1, Bernd Funke2, Johanna Tamminen3, and Kaley A. Walker4 Emily M. Gordon et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • 2Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Granada, Spain
  • 3Space and Earth Observation Centre, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Abstract. We investigate the impact of the so-called energetic particle precipitation (EPP) indirect effect on lower stratospheric ozone, ClO and ClONO2 in the Antarctic springtime. We use observations from Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) and Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on Aura, Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment – Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) on SciSat, and Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sound (MIPAS) on Envisat, covering the overall period of 2005–2017. Using the Ap index to proxy EPP, we find consistent ozone increases with elevated EPP during years with easterly phase of the quasi biennial oscillation (QBO) in both OMI and MLS observations. While these increases are opposite to what has been previously reported at higher altitudes, the pattern in the MLS O3 follows the typical descent patterns of EPP–NOx. The ozone enhancements are also present in the OMI total O3 column observations. Analogous to the descent patterns found in O3, we also found consistent decreases in springtime MLS ClO following winters of elevated EPP. To verify if this is due to a previously proposed mechanism of conversion of ClO to the reservoir species ClONO2 in reaction with NO2, we used ClONO2 observations from ACE-FTS and MIPAS. As ClO and NO2 are both catalysts in ozone destruction, the conversion into ClONO2 would result in ozone increase. We find a positive correlation between EPP and ClONO2 in the upper stratosphere in the early spring, and the lower stratosphere in late spring, providing the first observational evidence supporting the previously proposed mechanism relating to EPP–NOx modulating Clx driven ozone loss. Our findings suggest that EPP has played an important role in modulating ozone depletion in the last 15 years. As chlorine loading in the polar stratosphere continues to decrease in the future, this buffering mechanism will become less effective and catalytic ozone destruction by EPP–NOx will likely become a major contributor to Antarctic ozone loss.

Emily M. Gordon et al.

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Emily M. Gordon et al.

Emily M. Gordon et al.


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Latest update: 19 Oct 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Energetic Particle Precipitation (EPP) is the rain of solar energetic particles into the Earth's atmosphere. EPP is known to deplete O3 in the polar mesosphere-upper stratosphere via formation of NOx. NOx also causes chlorine deactivation in the lower stratosphere thus has been proposed to potentially result in reduced ozone depletion in the spring. We provide the first evidence to show that NOx formed by EPP is able to remove active chlorine, resulting in enhanced total ozone column.
Energetic Particle Precipitation (EPP) is the rain of solar energetic particles into the Earth's...