Signatures of the Antarctic ozone hole in Southern Hemisphere surface climate change


Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have driven and will continue to drive widespread climate change at the Earth's surface. But surface climate change is not limited to the effects of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Anthropogenic emissions of ozone-depleting gases also lead to marked changes in surface climate, through the radiative and dynamical effects of the Antarctic ozone hole. The influence of the Antarctic ozone hole on surface climate is most pronounced during the austral summer season and strongly resembles the most prominent pattern of large-scale Southern Hemisphere climate variability, the Southern Annular Mode. The influence of the ozone hole on the Southern Annular Mode has led to a range of significant summertime surface climate changes not only over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, but also over New Zealand, Patagonia and southern regions of Australia. Surface climate change as far equatorward as the subtropical Southern Hemisphere may have also been affected by the ozone hole. Over the next few decades, recovery of the ozone hole and increases in greenhouse gases are expected to have significant but opposing effects on the Southern Annular Mode and its attendant climate impacts during summer.

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Figure 1: Signature of the ozone hole in observed and simulated changes in the Southern Hemisphere polar circulation.
Figure 2: Signature of the ozone hole in observed and simulated changes in the austral summertime circulation.
Figure 3: Time series of the southern annular mode from transient experiments forced with time-varying ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases.
Figure 4: Signature of the SAM in austral summertime climate variability.
Figure 5: Schematic response of the ocean to the high-index polarity of the southern annular mode.


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We thank N. Gillett, L. Polvani and C. McLandress for providing the model output shown in Figs 1, 2 and 3 (as noted in the figure legends); A. Santoso for generating Fig. 3; L. Ciasto for generating the results shown in Fig. 4b; J. Renwick for providing the New Zealand temperature and precipitation data used in Fig. 4c, d; C. Ummenhofer for assistance with the data for Fig. 4e; and A. Sen Gupta for generating Fig. 5. Thanks also to J. Arblaster, J. Fyfe, N. Gillett, I. Held, H. Hendon, A. Hogg, C. Le Quéré, C. McLandress, L. Polvani, J. Renwick, S-W. Son and S. Rintoul for discussions and comments on the manuscript. D.W.J.T. is funded by the National Science Foundation Climate Dynamics program and appreciates sabbatical funding provided by the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW, where much of the text was written. D.J.K. is supported by the Australian Research Council through the Discovery Projects funding scheme (Project FF0668679). M.H.E. is supported by the Australian Research Council through the Laureate Fellowships funding scheme (Project FL100100214). P.J.K. acknowledges support of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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Thompson, D., Solomon, S., Kushner, P. et al. Signatures of the Antarctic ozone hole in Southern Hemisphere surface climate change. Nature Geosci 4, 741–749 (2011).

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