Record low ozone values over the Arctic in boreal spring 2020
Van Roozendael, M.
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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Ozone data derived from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) sensor on board the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite show exceptionally low total ozone columns in the polar region of the Northern Hemisphere (Arctic) in spring 2020. Minimum total ozone column values around or below 220 Dobson units (DU) were seen over the Arctic for 5 weeks in March and early April 2020. Usually the persistence of such low total ozone column values in spring is only observed in the polar Southern Hemisphere (Antarctic) and not over the Arctic. These record low total ozone columns were caused by a particularly strong polar vortex in the stratosphere with a persistent cold stratosphere at higher latitudes, a prerequisite for ozone depletion through heterogeneous chemistry. Based on the ERA5, which is the fifth generation of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) atmospheric reanalysis, the Northern Hemisphere winter 2019/2020 (from December to March) showed minimum polar cap temperatures consistently below 195 K around 20 km altitude, which enabled enhanced formation of polar stratospheric clouds. The special situation in spring 2020 is compared and discussed in context with two other Northern Hemisphere spring seasons, namely those in 1997 and 2011, which also displayed relatively low total ozone column values. However, during these years, total ozone columns below 220 DU over several consecutive days were not observed in spring. The similarities and differences of the atmospheric conditions of these three events and possible explanations for the observed features are presented and discussed. It becomes apparent that the monthly mean of the minimum total ozone column value for March 2020 (221 DU) was clearly below the respective values found in March 1997 (267 DU) and 2011 (252 DU), which highlights the special evolution of the polar stratospheric ozone layer in the Northern Hemisphere in spring 2020. A comparison with a typical ozone hole over the Antarctic (e.g., in 2016) indicates that although the Arctic spring 2020 situation is remarkable, with total ozone column values around or below 220 DU observed over a considerable area (up to 0.9 million km2), the Antarctic ozone hole shows total ozone columns typically below 150 DU over a much larger area (of the order of 20 million km2). Furthermore, total ozone columns below 220 DU are typically observed over the Antarctic for about 4 months.
CitationDameris, M.; Loyola, D.G.; Nützel, M.; Coldewey-Egbers, M.; Lerot, C.; Romahn, F.; Van Roozendael, M. (2021). Record low ozone values over the Arctic in boreal spring 2020. , Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 21, Issue 2, 617-633, DOI: 10.5194/acp-21-617-2021.