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Link between Antarctic ozone depletion and summer warming over southern Africa

Abstract

The notable rise in surface air temperatures over southern Africa over the past two decades is thought to largely result from the human-induced increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations1,2,3. In addition, the loss of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica is thought to have had a significant impact on tropospheric circulation, and hence climate, in the Southern Hemisphere summer4,5,6,7,8,9, by favouring the positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode4,10,11. Here, we use reanalysis data to compare the climate of southern Africa before and after the development of the large ozone hole, and investigate possible links between the development of the Antarctic ozone hole and summer warming in the region, defining 1970–1993 as the pre-ozone hole era, and 1993–2011 as the large ozone hole era. We find that the ozone-induced shift in the polarity of the Southern Annular Mode after 1993 coincided with an intensification of the Angola Low, a continental low pressure system that normally develops in austral summer and is mostly located over Angola. We show that the deepening of this low pressure system, in turn, was associated with an increase in the flux of warm surface air from the lower latitudes to southern Africa. We suggest that the recent summer warming over southern Africa is linked to these shifts in atmospheric circulation that are probably induced by Antarctic ozone loss.

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Figure 1: Geopotential height (m) at 850 hPa averaged during Oct–Dec of 1979–2010.
Figure 2: Spatial pattern maps during Oct–Dec of 1979–2010.
Figure 3: Time series during Oct–Dec of 1979–2010.
Figure 4: Correlation coefficient and mean difference maps.
Figure 5: Maps for the mean difference in meridional winds and the spatial distribution of correlation coefficients.

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Acknowledgements

The first author is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) RONPANKU program to perform the present research at both JAMSTEC and the University of Tokyo. Bindura University of Science is thanked for providing additional research support facilities.

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The chief author is D. Manatsa with the other authors contributing almost equally in the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Desmond Manatsa.

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Manatsa, D., Morioka, Y., Behera, S. et al. Link between Antarctic ozone depletion and summer warming over southern Africa. Nature Geosci 6, 934–939 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1968

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