1European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
2Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, The Netherlands
3Institute Of Chemistry And Dynamics Of The Geosphere (ICG), FZ Jülich, Germany
4National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
5Centre National de la Recherches Météorologiques, Toulouse, France
6Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique, Toulouse, France
Abstract. The 2008 Antarctic ozone hole was one of the largest and most long-lived in recent years. Predictions of the ozone hole were made in near-real time (NRT) and hindcast mode with the Integrated Forecast System (IFS) of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The forecasts were carried out both with and without assimilation of satellite observations from multiple instruments to provide more realistic initial conditions. Three different chemistry schemes were applied for the description of stratospheric ozone chemistry: (i) a linearization of the ozone chemistry, (ii) the stratospheric chemical mechanism of the MOZART-3 chemical transport model (CTM) and (iii) the relaxation to a climatology as implemented in the TM5 CTM. The IFS uses the latter two schemes by means of a two-way coupled system. Without assimilation, the forecasts showed model-specific shortcomings in predicting start time, extent and duration of the ozone hole. The assimilation of satellite observations from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), the Solar Backscattering Ultraviolet radiometer (SBUV-2) and the SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CartograpHY (SCIAMACHY) led to a significant improvement of the forecasts when compared with total columns and vertical profiles from ozone sondes. The combined assimilation of observations from multiple instruments helped to overcome limitations of the ultraviolet (UV) sensors at low solar elevation over Antarctica. The assimilation of data from MLS was crucial to obtain a good agreement with the observed ozone profiles both in the polar stratosphere and troposphere. The ozone analyses by the three model configurations were very similar despite the different underlying chemistry schemes. During the chemically instigated development of the ozone hole, differences quickly developed in the initialized forecasts by the different schemes. The predictions of the ozone-hole closure, which is driven mainly by dynamical processes, benefited from the initialization over a much longer forecast length. The characteristics of the individual chemistry schemes became apparent after the third forecast day but the forecasts were still close to the respective analyses. The initialization with ozone analyses was beneficial up to at least 15 days.