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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
10 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Continuous decline in lower stratospheric ozone offsets ozone layer recovery
William T. Ball1,2, Justin Alsing3, Daniel J. Mortlock4,5,6, Johannes Staehelin2, Joanna D. Haigh4,7, Thomas Peter2, Fiona Tummon2, Rene Stübi8, Andrea Stenke2, John Anderson9, Adam Bourassa10, Sean M. Davis11,12, Doug Degenstein10, Stacey Frith13,14, Lucien Froidevaux15, Chris Roth10, Viktoria Sofieva16, Ray Wang17, Jeannette Wild18,19, Pengfei Yu11,12, Jerald R. Ziemke14,20, and Eugene V. Rozanov1,2 1Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Centre, Dorfstrasse 33, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Universitaetstrasse 16, CHN, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
3Center for Computational Astrophysics, Flatiron Institute, 162 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA
4Physics Department, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK
5Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK
6Department of Astronomy, Stockholms universitet, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
7Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK
8Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, CH-1530 Payerne, Switzerland
9Hampton University, Hampton, VA, USA
10Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
11Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
12NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
13NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Silver Spring, MD, USA
14Science Systems and Applications Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
15Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
16Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
17School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
18NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, College Park, MD, USA
19Innovim LLC, Greenbelt, MD, USA
20NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
Abstract. Ozone forms in the Earth's atmosphere from the photodissociation of molecular oxygen, primarily in the tropical stratosphere. It is then transported to the extratropics by the Brewer-Dobson circulation (BDC), forming a protective ozone layer around the globe. Human emissions of halogen-containing ozone-depleting substances (hODSs) led to a decline in stratospheric ozone until they were banned by the Montreal Protocol (MP), and since 1998 ozone in the upper stratosphere shows a likely recovery. Total column ozone (TCO) measurements of ozone between the Earth's surface and the top of the atmosphere, indicate that the ozone layer has stopped declining across the globe, but no clear increase has been observed at latitudes outside the polar regions (60–90). Here we report evidence from multiple satellite measurements that ozone in the lower stratosphere between 60° S and 60° N has declined continuously since 1985. We find that, even though upper stratospheric ozone is recovering in response to the MP, the lower stratospheric changes more than compensate for this, resulting in the conclusion that, globally (60°&tinsp;S–60° N), stratospheric column ozone (StCO) continues to deplete. We find that globally, TCO appears to not have decreased because tropospheric column ozone (TrCO) increases, likely the result of human activity and harmful to respiratory health, are compensating for the stratospheric decreases. The reason for the continued reduction of lower stratospheric ozone is not clear, models do not reproduce these trends, and so the causes now urgently need to be established. Reductions in lower stratospheric ozone trends may partly lead to a small reduction in the warming of the climate, but a reduced ozone layer may also permit an increase in harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation at the surface and would impact human and ecosystem health.

Citation: Ball, W. T., Alsing, J., Mortlock, D. J., Staehelin, J., Haigh, J. D., Peter, T., Tummon, F., Stübi, R., Stenke, A., Anderson, J., Bourassa, A., Davis, S. M., Degenstein, D., Frith, S., Froidevaux, L., Roth, C., Sofieva, V., Wang, R., Wild, J., Yu, P., Ziemke, J. R., and Rozanov, E. V.: Continuous decline in lower stratospheric ozone offsets ozone layer recovery, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
William T. Ball et al.
William T. Ball et al.


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Short summary
Using a robust analysis, with artefact corrected ozone data, we confirm upper stratospheric ozone is recovering following the Montreal Protocol, but that lower stratospheric ozone (50° S–50° N) has continued to decrease since 1998, and the ozone layer as a whole (60° S–60° N) may be lower today than in 1998. No change in total column may be due to increasing tropospheric ozone. State-of-the-art models do not reproduce lower stratospheric ozone decreases.
Using a robust analysis, with artefact corrected ozone data, we confirm upper stratospheric...