Measurements during the Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation 2002 (ITCT 2K2) field study characterized the springtime, eastern Pacific ozone distribution at two ground sites, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration WP-3D aircraft, and from a light aircraft operated by the University of Washington. D. Jaffe and colleagues compared the 2002 ozone distribution with measurements made in the region over the two previous decades and show that average ozone levels over the eastern midlatitude Pacific have systematically increased by ∼10 ppbv in the last two decades. Here we provide substantial evidence that a marked change in the photochemical environment in the springtime troposphere of the North Pacific is responsible for this increased O3. This change is evidenced in the eastern North Pacific ITCT 2K2 study region by (1) larger increases in the minimum observed ozone levels compared to more modest increases in the maximum levels, (2) increased peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) levels that parallel trends in NOx emissions, and (3) decreased efficiency of photochemical O3 destruction, i.e., less negative O3 photochemical tendency (or net rate of O3 photochemical production; P(O3)). This changed photochemical environment is hypothesized to be due to anthropogenic emissions from Asia, which are believed to have substantially increased over the two decades preceding the study. We propose that their influence has changed the springtime Pacific tropospheric photochemistry from predominately ozone destroying to more nearly ozone producing. However, chemical transport model calculations indicate the possible influence of a confounding factor; unusual transport of tropical air to the western North Pacific during one early field study may have played a role in this apparent change in the photochemistry.
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