1Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Cambridge, UK
2Met Office, Exeter, UK
3Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster, UK
*now at: NASA/GISS and Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research, New York, USA
Abstract. We have run a chemistry transport model (CTM) to systematically examine the drivers of interannual variability of tropospheric composition. On a global scale, changing meteorology (winds, temperatures, humidity and clouds) is found to be the most important factor driving interannual variability of NO2 and ozone on the timescales considered. The strong influence of emissions is largely confined to areas where intense biomass burning events occur. For CO, interannual variability is almost solely driven by emission changes, while for OH meteorology dominates, with the radiative influence of clouds being a very strong contributor. Through a simple attribution analysis we conclude that changing cloudiness drives 25% of the interannual variability of OH over Europe by affecting shortwave radiation. Over Indonesia this figure is as high as 71%. Changes in cloudiness contribute a small but non-negligible amount (up to 6%) to the interannual variability of ozone over Europe and Indonesia. This suggests that future assessments of trends in tropospheric oxidizing capacity should account for interannual variability in cloudiness, a factor neglected in many previous studies. The approach followed in the current study can help explain observed tropospheric variability, such as the increases in ozone concentrations over Europe in 1998.