The response of the North Pacific jet and stratosphere-to-troposphere transport of ozone over western North America to RCP8.5 climate forcing

Dillon Elsbury

Dillon Elsbury


Wednesday, 25 January 2023
11:00 am Mountain Time
DSRC 2A305


Stratosphere-to-troposphere transport (STT) is an important source of ozone for the troposphere, particularly over western North America. STT in this region is predominantly controlled by a combination of the variability and location of the Pacific jet stream and the amount of ozone in the lower stratosphere, two factors which are likely to change if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase. Here we use Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model experiments with a tracer of stratospheric ozone (O3S) to study how end-of-the-century Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and greenhouses gases (GHGs), in isolation and in combination, influence STT of ozone over western North America relative to a preindustrial control background state.

We find that O3S increases up to 39% at 700 hPa over western North America in response to RCP8.5 forcing with the largest increases occurring during late winter and tapering off during spring and summer. The GHGs are primarily responsible for these tropospheric O3S changes. Both the future SSTs and the future GHGs accelerate the Brewer Dobson circulation, which increases extratropical lower stratospheric ozone mixing ratios. While the GHGs promote a more zonally symmetric lower stratospheric ozone change due to enhanced ozone production and some transport, the SSTs increase lower stratospheric ozone predominantly over the North Pacific via transport associated with a stationary planetary-scale wave. Ozone accumulates in the trough of this anomalous wave and is reduced over the wave’s ridges, illustrating that the composition of the lower stratospheric ozone reservoir in the future is dependent on the stationary planetary-scale wave response to future SSTs. In addition, the future SSTs are found to prompt most changes to the large-scale circulation in the troposphere and stratosphere compared to the effect of the GHGs. These changes include modifying the position and speed of the future North Pacific jet, lifting the tropopause, accelerating both the Brewer-Dobson Circulation’s shallow and deep branches, and enhancing two-way isentropic mixing in the stratosphere.

Dr. Dillon Elsbury is a CIRES Research Scientist in the CSL Chemistry and Climate Processes group. He received his BS in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and earned his PhD in 2021 from UC Irvine working with Gudrun Magnusdottir. He joined CIRES / NOAA in 2021 to work on the effect of stratospheric circulation on surface weather and ozone.

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