Changes in chemical composition of the middle atmosphere caused by sudden stratospheric warmings as seen by GOMOS/Envisat
1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. Sudden stratospheric warmings (SSW) are large-scale transient events, which have a profound effect on the Northern Hemisphere stratospheric circulation in winter. During the SSW events the temperature in stratosphere increases by several tens of Kelvins and zonal winds decelerate or reverse in direction. Changes in temperature and dynamics significantly affect the chemical composition of the middle atmosphere.
In this paper, the response of the middle-atmosphere trace gases during several sudden stratospheric warmings in 2003–2008 is investigated using measurements from the GOMOS (Global Ozone Monitoring by Occultation of Stars) instrument on board the Envisat satellite. We have analyzed spatial and temporal changes of NO2 and NO3 in the stratosphere, and of ozone in the whole middle atmosphere. To facilitate our analyses, we have used the temperature profiles data from the MLS (Microwave Limb Sounder) instrument on board the Aura satellite, as well as simulations by the FinROSE chemistry-transport model and the Sodankylä Ion and Neutral Chemistry model (SIC). NO3 observations in the polar winter stratosphere during SSWs are reported for the first time.
Changes in chemical composition are found not to be restricted to the stratosphere, but to extend to mesosphere and lower thermosphere. They often exhibit a complicated structure, because the distribution of trace gases is affected by changes in both chemistry and dynamics. The tertiary ozone maximum in the mesosphere often disappears with the onset of SSW, probably because of strong mixing processes. The strong horizontal mixing with outside-vortex air is well observed also in NO2 data, especially in cases of enhanced NO2 inside the polar vortex before SSW. Almost in all of the considered events, ozone near the secondary maximum decreases with onset of SSW. In both experimental data and FinROSE modelling, ozone changes are positively correlated with temperature changes in the lower stratosphere in the dynamically controlled region below ~35 km, and they are negatively correlated with temperature in the upper stratosphere (altitudes 35–50 km), where chemical processes play a significant role. Large enhancements of stratospheric NO3, which strongly correlate with temperature enhancements, are observed for all SSWs, as expected by the current understanding of temperature-dependence of NO3 concentrations and simulations with the CTM.