Troposphere-Stratosphere Coupled Chemistry-Climate Interactions: From Global Warming Projections to Air Quality

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 10:50
3008 (Moscone West)
Peer Johannes Nowack1, N. Luke Abraham2,3, Amanda C. Maycock2,3, Peter Braesicke4 and John Adrian Pyle2,3, (1)University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2)National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (3)University of Cambridge, Chemistry, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (4)Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, IMK-ASF, Karlsruhe, Germany
Changes in stratospheric composition can affect tropospheric composition and vice versa. Of particular interest are trace gas concentrations at the interface between these two atmospheric layers in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). This is due to the crucial importance of composition changes in the UTLS for the global energy budget. In a recent study (Nowack et al., 2015), we provided further evidence that composition changes in the tropical UTLS can significantly affect global warming projections. Using a state-of-the-art atmosphere-ocean chemistry-climate model, we found a ~20% smaller global warming in response to an abrupt 4xCO2 forcing if composition feedbacks were included in the calculations as compared to simulations in which composition feedbacks were not considered. We attributed this large difference in surface warming mainly to circulation-driven decreases in tropical UTLS ozone and related changes in stratospheric water vapor, partly counteracted by simultaneous changes in ice clouds. Here, we explain why this result is expected to differ between models and how, inter alia, tropospheric chemical mechanisms can contribute to this uncertainty. We highlight that improving our understanding of processes in the tropical UTLS and their representation in Earth system models remains a key challenge in climate research.
Finally, taking geoengineering as a new example, we show that changes in the stratosphere can have an impact on air quality in the troposphere. In particular, we explain for a simple solar radiation management scenario how changes in surface ozone can be linked to changes in meteorology and composition in the troposphere and stratosphere. In conclusion, we highlight the importance of considering air quality impacts when evaluating a variety of geoengineering scenarios.

Reference: Nowack, P.J., Abraham, N.L., Maycock, A.C., Braesicke, P., Gregory, J.M., Joshi, M.M., Osprey, A., and Pyle, J.A. Nature Climate Change 5, 41-45 (2015).