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Stratospheric Chemistry and Dynamics

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Chemistry and transport interact to determine the abundance and distribution of stratospheric water vapor and ozone – key trace constituents that influence the radiative and dynamical processes in the stratosphere. Stratospheric ozone is of particular importance as it absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation before it reaches the Earth’s surface. The stratosphere and troposphere are a coupled system, so any changes in dynamical, chemical, and radiative processes in the stratosphere can influence tropospheric composition and climate. Tropospheric perturbations, in turn, induce changes in stratospheric composition and circulation which affect weather and climate in the troposphere.

A better understanding of the influences of stratospheric chemical, radiative, and dynamical processes on tropospheric mean climate, climate change and climate variability is required to fulfill NOAA’s mission of understanding and predicting changes in climate.

GFDL Research

At GFDL, scientists develop and apply global models to understand the mechanisms by which stratospheric chemistry and dynamics influence climate change and variability and how changes in climate affect the stratospheric chemical composition and circulation. Coupled chemistry-climate models that include representations of tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry and dynamics, such as CM3, facilitate the study of the coupled stratosphere-troposphere system. Scientists develop and test models against atmospheric observations to improve them and build confidence in their utility.

Research is focused on improving our understanding of stratospheric chemistry and circulation to help predict how stratospheric ozone will respond to future changes in greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting gases, and how these changes in ozone will impact tropospheric weather and climate. Scientists also contribute model results for stratospheric ozone depletion and recovery to international assessment activities, such as the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). GFDL scientists collaborate with scientists at other laboratories and universities to obtain expertise and observational data sets necessary for developing robust models in support of NOAA’s mission.

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Featured Results



  1. Lin, Meiyun, Arlene M Fiore, Larry W Horowitz, A Langford, S J Oltmans, D W Tarasick, and H E Rieder, May 2015: Climate variability modulates western US ozone air quality in spring via deep stratospheric intrusions. Nature Communications, 6, 7105, doi:10.1038/ncomms8105.
  2. Lin, Pu, Yi Ming, and V Ramaswamy, February 2015: Tropical Climate Change Control of the Lower Stratospheric Circulation. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(3), doi:10.1002/2014GL062823.
  3. Bollasina, Massimo, Yi Ming, V Ramaswamy, M Daniel Schwarzkopf, and Vaishali Naik, January 2014: Contribution of Local and Remote Anthropogenic Aerosols to the 20th century Weakening of the South Asian Monsoon. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(2), doi:10.1002/2013GL058183.
  4. Austin, John, Larry W Horowitz, M Daniel Schwarzkopf, R John Wilson, and Hiram Levy II, June 2013: Stratospheric Ozone and Temperature Simulated from the Preindustrial Era to the Present Day. Journal of Climate, 26(11), doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00162.1.
  5. Eyring, V, and Larry W Horowitz, et al., May 2013: Long-term ozone changes and associated climate impacts in CMIP5 simulations. Journal of Geophysical Research, 118(10), doi:10.1002/jgrd.50316.
  6. Lin, Meiyun, Arlene M Fiore, O Cooper, Larry W Horowitz, A Langford, Hiram Levy II, B J Johnson, and Vaishali Naik, et al., October 2012: Springtime high surface ozone events over the western United States: Quantifying the role of stratospheric intrusions. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, D00V22, doi:10.1029/2012JD018151.
  7. Donner, Leo J., Bruce Wyman, Richard S Hemler, Larry W Horowitz, Yi Ming, Ming Zhao, J-C Golaz, Paul Ginoux, Shian-Jiann Lin, M Daniel Schwarzkopf, John Austin, G Alaka, William F Cooke, Thomas L Delworth, Stuart Freidenreich, C Tony Gordon, Stephen M Griffies, Isaac M Held, William J Hurlin, Stephen A Klein, Thomas R Knutson, Amy R Langenhorst, Hyun-Chul Lee, Yanluan Lin, B I Magi, Sergey Malyshev, P C D Milly, Vaishali Naik, Mary Jo Nath, R Pincus, Jeff J Ploshay, V Ramaswamy, Charles J Seman, Elena Shevliakova, Joseph J Sirutis, William F Stern, Ronald J Stouffer, R John Wilson, Michael Winton, Andrew T Wittenberg, and Fanrong Zeng, July 2011: The dynamical core, physical parameterizations, and basic simulation characteristics of the atmospheric component AM3 of the GFDL Global Coupled Model CM3. Journal of Climate, 24(13), doi:10.1175/2011JCLI3955.1.
  8. Austin, John, and R John Wilson, September 2010: Sensitivity of polar ozone to sea surface temperatures and halogen amounts. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, D18303, doi:10.1029/2009JD013292.
  9. Schwarzkopf, M D., and V Ramaswamy, February 2008: Evolution of stratospheric temperature in the 20th Century. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L03705, doi:10.1029/2007GL032489.