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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 14 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Investigating stratospheric changes between 2009 and 2018 with aircraft, AirCores, and a global model focusing on CFC-11

Johannes C. Laube1,2, Emma C. Leedham Elvidge2,3, Karina E. Adcock2, Bianca Baier4,5, Carl A. M. Brenninkmeijer6, Huilin Chen7, Elise S. Droste2, Jens-Uwe Grooß1, Pauli Heikkinen8, Andrew J. Hind2, Rigel Kivi8, Alexander Lojko2,9, Stephen A. Montzka5, David E. Oram2, Steve Randall10, Thomas Röckmann11, William T. Sturges2, Colm Sweeney4, Max Thomas2, Elinor Tuffnell2, and Felix Ploeger1,12 Johannes C. Laube et al.
  • 1Institute of Energy and Climate Research: Stratosphere, Jülich Research Centre, Jülich, 52428, Germany
  • 2School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
  • 3Faculty of Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
  • 4Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
  • 5Global Monitoring Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO 80305-3337, USA
  • 6Air Chemistry Division, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, 55128, Germany
  • 7Center for Isotope Research, University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747 AG, The Netherlands
  • 8Finnish Meteorological Institute, Sodankylä, 99600, Finland
  • 9Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2143, USA
  • 10Random Engineering Ltd., Felixstowe, IP11 9SL, United Kingdom
  • 11Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3508 TA, The Netherlands
  • 12Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Research, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, 42119, Germany

Abstract. We present new observations of trace gases in the stratosphere based on a cost-effective sampling technique that can access much higher altitudes than aircraft. The further development of this method now provides detection of species with abundances in the parts per trillion (ppt) range and below. We obtain mixing ratios for six gases (CFC-11, CFC-12, HCFC-22, H-1211, H-1301, and SF6), all of which are important for understanding stratospheric ozone depletion and circulation. After demonstrating the quality of the data through comparisons with ground-based records and aircraft-based observations we combine them with the latter to demonstrate its potential. We first compare it with results from a global model driven by three widely used meteorological reanalyses. Secondly, we focus on CFC-11 as recent evidence has indicated renewed atmospheric emissions of that species relevant on a global scale. Because the stratosphere represents the main sink region for CFC-11, potential changes in stratospheric circulation and troposphere-stratosphere exchange fluxes have been identified as the largest source of uncertainty for the accurate quantification of such emissions. Our observations span over a decade (up until 2018) and therefore cover the period of the slowdown of CFC-11 global mixing ratio decreases measured at the Earth's surface. The spatial and temporal coverage of the observations is insufficient for a global quantitative analysis, but we do find some trends that are in contrast with expectations; indicating that the stratosphere may have contributed to the slower concentration decline in recent years. Further investigating the reanalysis-driven model data we find that the required dynamical changes in the stratosphere required to explain the apparent change in tropospheric CFC-11 emissions after 2013 are possible, but with a very high uncertainty range. This is partly caused by the high variability of mass flux from the stratosphere to the troposphere, especially at time scales of a few years, and partly by large differences between runs driven by different reanalysis products, none of which agree with our observations well enough for such a quantitative analysis.

Johannes C. Laube et al.

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Johannes C. Laube et al.

Johannes C. Laube et al.


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Latest update: 24 May 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We demonstrate that the AirCore technology, which is based on low-cost small balloons, can provide access to trace gas measurements such as CFCs at ultra-low abundances. This is a new way to quantify ozone-depleting substances and related gases in the stratosphere, which is largely inaccessible to aircraft. We show two potential uses, (a) tracking the stratospheric circulation, which is predicted to change, and (b) assessing 3 common meteorological reanalyses driving a global stratospheric model.
We demonstrate that the AirCore technology, which is based on low-cost small balloons, can...