Past and future changes in global tropospheric ozone: Impact on radiative forcing

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Abstract

Calculations by a global three-dimensional chemical transport model of the atmosphere suggest that increased surface emissions of chemical compounds caused by industrial activities at mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere and by biomass burning in the tropics since the middle of the 19th century have produced an increase in the abundance of tropospheric ozone along with a reduction in the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere (globally averaged OH concentration reduced by 17% and methane lifetime enhanced by 1.5 years). These perturbations in tropospheric ozone result in a change in annually averaged radiative forcing of 0.37 W m−2 (0.62 W m−2 in the northern hemisphere during the summer months). Future changes (1990–2050) in tropospheric ozone associated with population increase and economic development (primarily in developing countries) are expected to be largest in the tropics, specifically in South and Southeast Asia. Further changes in the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere could be small if the abundance of tropospheric water vapor increases as a result of anticipated climate change.

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