Stratospheric Response to Trace Gas Perturbations: Changes in Ozone and Temperature Distributions

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Science  29 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4852, pp. 634-637
DOI: 10.1126/science.240.4852.634


The stratospheric concentration of trace gases released in the atmosphere as a result of human activities is increasing at a rate of 5 to 8 percent per year in the case of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), 1 percent per year in the case of methane (CH4), and 0.25 percent per year in the case of nitrous oxide (N2O). The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) is expected to double before the end of the 21st century. Even if the production of the CFCs remains limited according to the protocol for the protection of the ozone layer signed in September 1987 in Montreal, the abundance of active chlorine (2 parts per billion by volume in the early 1980s) is expected to reach 6 to7 parts per billion by volume by 2050. The impact of these increases on stratospheric temperature and ozone was investigated with a two-dimensional numerical model. The model includes interactive radiation, wave and mean flow dynamics, and 40 trace species. An increase in CFCs caused ozone depletion in the model, with the largest losses near the stratopause and, in the vertical mean, at high latitudes. Increased CO2 caused ozone amounts to increase through cooling, with the largest increases again near 45 kilometers and at high latitudes. This CO2-induced poleward increase reduced the CFC-induced poleward decrease. Poleward and downward ozone transport played a major role in determining the latitudinal variation in column ozone changes.