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The Impact of Stratospheric Ozone Recovery on Tropopause Height Trends

Son, Seok-Woo; Polvani, Lorenzo M.; Waugh, Darryn W.; Birner, Thomas; Akiyoshi, Hideharu; Garcia, Rolando R.; Gettelman, Andrew; Plummer, David A.; Rozanov, Eugene

The evolution of the tropopause in the past, present, and future climate is examined by analyzing a set of long-term integrations with stratosphere-resolving chemistry climate models (CCMs). These CCMs have high vertical resolution near the tropopause, a model top located in the mesosphere or above, and, most important, fully interactive stratospheric chemistry. Using such CCM integrations, it is found that the tropopause pressure (height) will continue to decrease (increase) in the future, but with a trend weaker than that in the recent past. The reduction in the future tropopause trend is shown to be directly associated with stratospheric ozone recovery. A significant ozone recovery occurs in the Southern Hemisphere lower stratosphere of the CCMs, and this leads to a relative warming there that reduces the tropopause trend in the twenty-first century.
The future tropopause trends predicted by the CCMs are considerably smaller than those predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) models, especially in the southern high latitudes. This difference persists even when the CCMs are compared with the subset of the AR4 model integrations for which stratospheric ozone recovery was prescribed. These results suggest that a realistic representation of the stratospheric processes might be important for a reliable estimate of tropopause trends. The implications of these finding for the Southern Hemisphere climate change are also discussed.


Also Published In

Journal of Climate