Members’ Publications

Tropical circulation and precipitation response to ozone depletion and recovery

Brönnimann S., Jacques-Coper M., Rozanov E., Fischer A. M., Morgenstern O., Zeng G., Akiyoshi H., Yamashita Y.
Environ. Res. Lett., 12, 064011

Among the few well established changes in atmospheric circulation in recent decades are those caused by stratospheric ozone depletion. They include a strengthening and poleward contraction of the westerly atmospheric circulation over the Southern extratropics, i.e. a strengthening Southern Annular Mode (SAM), in austral spring and summer. Associated effects on extratropical temperature and precipitation and more recently subtropical precipitation have been documented and are understood in a zonal mean framework. We present zonally asymmetric effects of ozone depletion that reach into the tropics and affect atmospheric circulation and precipitation, including the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), the most important rainband of the Southern Hemisphere. Using observation-based analyses and model simulations we show that over the 1961–1996 period, ozone depletion led to increased precipitation at the northern flank of the SPCZ and to decreased precipitation to the south. The effects originate from a flow pattern over the southwestern Pacific that extends equatorward and alters the propagation of synoptic waves and thus the position of the SPCZ. Model simulations suggest that anticipated stratospheric ozone recovery over the next decades will reverse these effects.