Involvement of the Brewer-Dobson circulation in changes of stratospheric temperature and ozone

Murry Salby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Wintertime temperature and ozone in the Northern Hemisphere stratosphere vary significantly between years. Largely random, those variations are marked by compensating changes at high and low latitudes, a feature that reflects the residual mean circulation of the stratosphere. Interannual changes of temperature and ozone each track anomalous forcing of the residual circulation. This relationship is shown to be obeyed even over the Arctic, where transport is augmented by heterogeneous chemical processes that destroy ozone. Chlorine activation obeys a similar relationship, reflecting feedback between changes of the residual circulation and anomalous photochemistry. Changes of stratospheric dynamical and chemical structure are found be accompanied by coherent changes in the troposphere. Vertically extensive, they reflect inter-dependent changes in the stratosphere and troposphere, which are coupled by the residual circulation through transfers of mass. The corresponding structure is shown to share major features with empirical modes of interannual variability associated with the AO and its cousin, the NAO. A 3D model of dynamics and photochemistry is used to simulate anomalous temperature and ozone. Driven by anomalous wave activity representative of that observed, the model reproduces the salient structure of observed interannual changes. Anomalous temperature and ozone follow in the integrations from anomalous downwelling, which, under disturbed conditions, renders temperature over the Arctic anomalously warm, and from anomalous poleward transport, which renders Arctic ozone anomalously rich. Accompanying random interannual changes in the observed record was a systematic decline of Northern Hemisphere temperature and ozone during the 1980s and early 1990s. Comprising decadal trends, these systematic changes are shown to have the same essential structure and seasonality as random changes, which, in turn, vary coherently with anomalous forcing of the residual circulation. Implications of the findings to the interpretation of stratospheric trends are discussed in light of anomalous residual motion, photochemistry, and feedback between them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalDynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Planetary wave
  • Stratosphere
  • Troposphere

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