Quantification and attribution of long-term tropospheric ozone trends are critical for understanding the impact of human activity and climate change on atmospheric chemistry but are also challenged by the limited coverage of long-term ozone observations in the free troposphere where ozone has higher production efficiency and radiative potential compared to that at the surface. In this study, we examine observed tropospheric ozone trends, their attributions, and radiative impacts from 1995-2017 using aircraft observations from the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System database (IAGOS), ozonesondes, and a multi-decadal GEOS-Chem chemical model simulation. IAGOS observations above 11 regions in the Northern Hemisphere and 19 of 27 global ozonesonde sites have measured increases in tropospheric ozone (950-250 hPa) by 2.7 ± 1.7 and 1.9 ± 1.7 ppbv per decade on average, respectively, with particularly large increases in the lower troposphere (950-800 hPa) above East Asia, the Persian Gulf, India, northern South America, the Gulf of Guinea, and Malaysia/Indonesia by 2.8 to 10.6 ppbv per decade. The GEOS-Chem simulation driven by reanalysis meteorological fields and the most up-to-date year-specific anthropogenic emission inventory reproduces the overall pattern of observed tropospheric ozone trends, including the large ozone increases over the tropics of 2.1-2.9 ppbv per decade and above East Asia of 0.5-1.8 ppbv per decade and the weak tropospheric ozone trends above North America, Europe, and high latitudes in both hemispheres, but trends are underestimated compared to observations. GEOS-Chem estimates an increasing trend of 0.4 Tg yr-1 of the tropospheric ozone burden in 1995-2017. We suggest that uncertainties in the anthropogenic emission inventory in the early years of the simulation (e.g., 1995-1999) over developing regions may contribute to GEOS-Chem's underestimation of tropospheric ozone trends. GEOS-Chem sensitivity simulations show that changes in global anthropogenic emission patterns, including the equatorward redistribution of surface emissions and the rapid increases in aircraft emissions, are the dominant factors contributing to tropospheric ozone trends by 0.5 Tg yr-1. In particular, we highlight the disproportionately large, but previously underappreciated, contribution of aircraft emissions to tropospheric ozone trends by 0.3 Tg yr-1, mainly due to aircraft emitting NOx in the mid-troposphere and upper troposphere where ozone production efficiency is high. Decreases in lower-stratospheric ozone and the stratosphere-troposphere flux in 1995-2017 contribute to an ozone decrease at mid-latitudes and high latitudes. We estimate the change in tropospheric ozone radiative impacts from 1995-1999 to 2013-2017 is +18.5 mW m-2, with 43.5 mW m-2 contributed by anthropogenic emission changes (20.5 mW m-2 alone by aircraft emissions), highlighting that the equatorward redistribution of emissions to areas with strong convection and the increase in aircraft emissions are effective for increasing tropospheric ozone's greenhouse effect.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Atmospheric Science