Classification of Northern Hemisphere Stratospheric Ozone and Water Vapor Profiles by Meteorological Regime: Validation, Climatology, and Trends

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Follette, Melanie Beth
Hudson, Robert D.
The presence of stratospheric ozone is essential for the survival of life on the Earth's surface. The decrease in the column content of ozone over mid-latitudes from 1979-1991 has previously been attributed to destruction by anthropogenic halogens, and changes in the general circulation. The research presented here shows that a poleward movement of the subtropical and polar upper troposphere fronts is responsible for 35% of this observed decrease. In Hudson et al. (2003) we showed that the Northern Hemisphere total ozone field could be separated into meteorological regimes, bounded by the subtropical and polar upper troposphere fronts. These regimes were characterized by relatively constant total ozone, tropopause height, and ozonepause height. Negative trends in total ozone within each regime were found for the time period January 1979-May 1991. These trends corresponded to a statistically significant increase in the relative area of the tropical regime, and decrease in the relative area of the polar regime, indicating a net poleward movement of the subtropical and polar fronts over this time period. This poleward frontal movement was responsible for ~35% of the negative zonal trend in total ozone over this time period and latitude range, the remaining 65% being the result of total ozone changes within the meteorological regimes. Ozone and water vapor profiles from 1997-2004, from the HALOE and SAGE II satellite-based instruments, were classified by regime. Each regime was characterized by a distinct ozonepause and hygropause height, and profile shape below ~25km, over a wide latitude range (25°-60°N). Therefore, previously reported zonal trends in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere are a combination of both tropospheric and stratospheric air. Trends within each regime were calculated for both ozone and water vapor from 1997-2004 and from October 1984-May 1991. The relationship between the observed zonal vertical trends and the trends within each regime were consistent with the idea of meteorological regimes and reinforce the major conclusion of this work. A true understanding of zonal trends in either the column or in the lower stratosphere involves understanding both changes within each regime and changes in the relative weighting of each regime over time.