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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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