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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Attribution of the Arctic ozone column deficit in March 2011


Arctic column ozone reached record low values (∼310 DU) during March of 2011, exposing Arctic ecosystems to enhanced UV-B. We identify the cause of this anomaly using the Oslo CTM2 atmospheric chemistry model driven by ECMWF meteorology to simulate Arctic ozone from 1998 through 2011. CTM2 successfully reproduces the variability in column ozone, from week to week, and from year to year, correctly identifying 2011 as an extreme anomaly over the period. By comparing parallel model simulations, one with all Arctic ozone chemistry turned off on January 1, we find that chemical ozone loss in 2011 is enhanced relative to previous years, but it accounted for only 23% of the anomaly. Weakened transport of ozone from middle latitudes, concurrent with an anomalously strong polar vortex, was the primary cause of the low ozone When the zonal winds relaxed in mid-March 2011, Arctic column ozone quickly recovered.

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