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The Importance of the Montreal Protocol in Mitigating the Potential Intensity of Tropical Cyclones

Polvani, Lorenzo M.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Garcia, Rolando R.

The impact of the Montreal Protocol on the potential intensity of tropical cyclones over the next 50 years is investigated with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM), a state-of-the-art, stratosphere-resolving atmospheric model, coupled to land, ocean, and sea ice components, with interactive stratospheric chemistry. An ensemble of WACCM runs from 2006 to 2065 forced with a standard future scenario is compared to a second ensemble in which ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are not regulated (the so-called World Avoided). It is found that by the year 2065, changes in the potential intensity of tropical cyclones in the World Avoided are nearly 3 times as large as for the standard scenario. The Montreal Protocol thus provides a strong mitigation of the adverse effects of intensifying tropical cyclones.

The relative importance of warmer sea surface temperatures (ozone-depleting substances are important greenhouse gases) and cooler lower-stratospheric temperatures (accompanying the massive destruction of the ozone layer) is carefully examined. It is found that the former are largely responsible for the increase in potential intensity in the World Avoided, whereas temperatures above the 70-hPa level—which plunge by nearly 15 K in 2065 in the World Avoided—have no discernible effect on potential intensity. This finding suggests that the modest (compared to the World Avoided) tropical ozone depletion of recent decades has not been a major player in determining the intensity of tropical cyclones, and neither will ozone recovery be in the coming half century.


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Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
June 13, 2016