Tropical tropospheric ozone distribution and trends from in situ and satellite data
Abstract. Tropical tropospheric ozone (TTO) is important for the global radiation budget because the longwave radiative effect of tropospheric ozone is higher in the tropics than mid-latitudes. In recent decades the TTO burden has increased, partly due to the ongoing shift of ozone precursor emissions from mid-latitude regions toward the equator. In this study, we assess the distribution and trends of TTO using ozone profiles measured by high quality in situ instruments from the IAGOS (In-Service Aircraft for a Global Observing System) commercial aircraft, the SHADOZ (Southern Hemisphere ADditional OZonesondes) network, and the ATom (Atmospheric Tomographic Mission) aircraft campaign, as well as six satellite records reporting tropical tropospheric column ozone (TTCO): TROPOMI, OMI, OMI/MLS, OMPS/MERRA2, CrIS, and IASI/GOME2. With greater availability of ozone profiles across the tropics we can now demonstrate that tropical India is among the most polluted regions (e.g., Western Africa, tropical South Atlantic, Southeast Asia, Malaysia/Indonesia) with present-day 95th percentile ozone values reaching 80 nmol mol−1 in the lower free troposphere, comparable to mid-latitude regions such as Northeast China/Korea. In situ observations show that TTO increased between 1994 and 2019, with the largest mid- and upper tropospheric increases above India, Southeast Asia and Malaysia/Indonesia (from 3.4 ± 0.8 to 6.8 ± 1.8 nmol mol−1 decade−1), reaching 11 ± 2.4 and 8 ± 0.8 nmol mol−1 decade−1 close to the surface (India and Malaysia/Indonesia, respectively). The longest continuous satellite records only span 2004−2019, but also show increasing ozone across the tropics when their full sampling is considered, with maximum trends over Southeast Asia of 2.31 ± 1.34 nmol mol−1 decade−1 (OMI) and 1.69 ± 0.89 nmol mol−1 decade−1 (OMI/MLS). In general, the sparsely sampled aircraft and ozonesonde records do not detect the 2004−2019 ozone increase, which could be due to the genuine trends on this timescale being masked by the additional uncertainty resulting from sparse sampling. The fact that the sign of the trends detected with satellite records changes above three IAGOS regions, when their sampling frequency is limited to that of the in situ observations, demonstrates the limitations of sparse in situ sampling strategies. This study exposes the need to maintain and develop high frequency continuous observations (in situ and remote sensing) above the tropical Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, Western Africa and South Asia in order to estimate accurate and precise ozone trends for these regions. In contrast, Southeast Asia and Malaysia/Indonesia are regions with such strong increases of ozone that the current in situ sampling frequency is adequate to detect the trends on a relatively short 15-year time scale.
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