Dynamical drivers of free-tropospheric ozone increases over equatorial Southeast Asia
Abstract. Positive trends in tropical free-tropospheric (FT) ozone are frequently ascribed to emissions growth, but less is known about the effects of changing dynamics. Extending a prior study (Thompson et al., 2021; https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JD034691; “T21”), we re-examine Southern Hemisphere Additional Ozonesondes (SHADOZ) ozone trends over equatorial Southeast Asia (ESEA), one of Earth’s most convectively active regions, using 25 years (1998–2022) of ozone soundings. T21 posited that early-year positive FT ozone trends at equatorial SHADOZ stations are related to decreasing convection. The 25-year analysis of Kuala Lumpur and Watukosek SHADOZ records finds that +5 to +15 % (+2 to +6 nmol mol-1) per decade FT ozone trends from ~February–April coincide with large increases in satellite infrared brightness temperatures and outgoing longwave radiation, indicators of declining convective activity. MERRA-2 reanalyses exhibit decreases in upper tropospheric velocity potential and precipitable water, also indicating diminished convection. In contrast, trends in ozone and convective indicators are generally weak the rest of the year. These results suggest that decreases in convective intensity and frequency are primary drivers of FT ozone build-up over ESEA early in the year, i.e., waning convection suppresses lofting and dilution of ozone. Decreasing convection promotes accumulation of biomass burning emissions typical of boreal spring even though satellite FT carbon monoxide trends (2002–2022) over ESEA follow a global decrease pattern. Finally, our results demonstrate the advantages of monthly or seasonally resolved trends over annual means for robust attribution of observed ozone trends, challenging models to reproduce these detailed features in simulations of the past 25 years.
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