Attribution of historical ozone forcing to anthropogenic emissions

Abstract

Anthropogenic ozone radiative forcing is traditionally separately attributed to tropospheric and stratospheric changes assuming that these have distinct causes1. Using the interactive composition–climate model GISS-E2-R we find that this assumption is not justified. Our simulations show that changes in emissions of tropospheric ozone precursors have substantial effects on ozone in both regions, as do anthropogenic halocarbon emissions. On the basis of our results, further simulations with the NCAR-CAM3.5 model2, and published studies3,4, we estimate industrial era (1850–2005) whole-atmosphere ozone forcing of 0.5 W m−2 due to anthropogenic tropospheric precursors and about −0.2 W m−2 due to halocarbons. The net troposphere plus stratosphere forcing is similar to the net halocarbon plus precursor ozone forcing, but the latter provides a more useful perspective. The halocarbon-induced ozone forcing is roughly two-thirds the magnitude of the halocarbon direct forcing but opposite in sign, yielding a net forcing of only 0.1 W m−2. Thus, the net effect of halocarbons has been smaller, and the effect of tropospheric ozone precursors has been greater, than generally recognized.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Differences in modelled ozone versus satellite observations.
Figure 3

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Acknowledgements

We thank NASA MAP for financial support and the NCCS for computer services.

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G.F. performed the GISS composition simulations, L.N. and R.R. performed the GISS RTM calculations, K.B. facilitated use of the TES data, J-F.L. performed the NCAR simulations, A.V., G.A.S., O.P. and D.S. contributed to developing and evaluation the GISS composition model, D.S. conceived and led the study, and all authors contributed to writing the paper.

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Correspondence to Drew Shindell.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Shindell, D., Faluvegi, G., Nazarenko, L. et al. Attribution of historical ozone forcing to anthropogenic emissions. Nature Clim Change 3, 567–570 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1835

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