Role of tropospheric ozone increases in 20th-century climate change



[1] Human activities have increased tropospheric ozone, contributing to 20th-century warming. Using the spatial and temporal distribution of precursor emissions, we simulated tropospheric ozone from 1890 to 1990 using the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) chemistry model. Archived three-dimensional ozone fields were then used in transient GISS climate model simulations. This enables more realistic evaluation of the impact of tropospheric ozone increases than prior simulations using an interpolation between preindustrial and present-day ozone. We find that tropospheric ozone contributed to the greater 20th-century warming in the Northern Hemisphere extratropics compared with the tropics and in the tropics compared with the Southern Hemisphere extratropics. Additionally, ozone increased more rapidly during the latter half of the century than the former, causing more rapid warming during that time. This is especially apparent in the tropics and is consistent with observations, which do not show similar behavior in the extratropics. Other climate forcings do not substantially accelerate warming rates in the tropics relative to other regions. This suggests that accelerated tropospheric ozone increases related to industrialization in the developing world have contributed to the accelerated tropical warming. During boreal summer, tropospheric ozone causes enhanced warming (>0.5°C) over polluted northern continental regions. Finally, the Arctic climate response to tropospheric ozone increases is large during fall, winter, and spring when ozone's lifetime is comparatively long and pollution transported from midlatitudes is abundant. The model indicates that tropospheric ozone could have contributed about 0.3°C annual average and about 0.4°C–0.5°C during winter and spring to the 20th-century Arctic warming. Pollution controls could thus substantially reduce the rapid rate of Arctic warming.