Detecting recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer


As a result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its amendments, the atmospheric loading of anthropogenic ozone-depleting substances is decreasing. Accordingly, the stratospheric ozone layer is expected to recover. However, short data records and atmospheric variability confound the search for early signs of recovery, and climate change is masking ozone recovery from ozone-depleting substances in some regions and will increasingly affect the extent of recovery. Here we discuss the nature and timescales of ozone recovery, and explore the extent to which it can be currently detected in different atmospheric regions.

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Figure 1: Latitude–height cross section of stratospheric ozone and time series of chlorine in the troposphere and stratosphere.
Figure 2: Time series of observed total (column) ozone.
Figure 3: Time series of observed upper stratospheric annual mean ozone anomalies at 2 hPa (about 40 km) in three zonal latitude bands.
Figure 4: TOMCAT 3D model calculations of the per cent change in ozone at 40 km, 30 km and 20 km altitude and in the total column (TOZ) since 1960 for different assumptions in the ODS scenarios.
Figure 5: Observed and modelled 2000–2015 ozone trends (% per decade) from simple and multiple linear regressions for different regions.
Figure 6: Simulated global annual averaged total ozone response to changes in GHGs and ODSs from the GSFC two-dimensional chemistry–climate model.


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We thank J. Pyle and P. Newman for comments on this work; A. Schmidt for comments on an early version of the manuscript; E. Fleming for providing Fig. 6; and W. Feng for help with TOMCAT. The TOMCAT modelling work was supported by the NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the simulations were performed on the Archer and Leeds ARC/N8 computers. M.P.C. acknowledges support of a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award. M.W. acknowledges partial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Research Unit SHARP (Stratospheric Change and its Role for Climate Prediction) and the ESA CCI-Ozone project. R.T. acknowledges funding by the LABEX L-IPSL project (grant ANR-10-LABX-18-01). S.B. and N.R.P.H. were partially supported by the European project StratoClim (603557 under programme FP7-ENV.2013.6.1-2). N.R.P.H. also acknowledges support from NERC CAST (NE/I030051/1).

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M.P.C. initiated the study and recruited the author team. All authors contributed to the writing of the paper. M.P.C. and S.D. ran and analysed the TOMCAT simulations. S.B., R.T. and M.W. performed the MLR studies. R.H., M.W., W.S., S.D., R.T. and M.P.C. produced the figures.

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Correspondence to Martyn P. Chipperfield.

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Chipperfield, M., Bekki, S., Dhomse, S. et al. Detecting recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer. Nature 549, 211–218 (2017).

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