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Keywords:

  • stratospheric ozone layer;
  • ozone recovery;
  • ozone trends

[1] Multiple satellite and ground-based observations provide consistent evidence that the thickness of Earth's protective ozone layer has stopped declining since 1997, close to the time of peak stratospheric halogen loading. Regression analyses with Effective Equivalent Stratospheric Chlorine (EESC) in conjunction with further analyses using more sophisticated photochemical model calculations constrained by satellite data demonstrate that the cessation of ozone depletion between 18 and 25 km altitude is consistent with a leveling off of stratospheric abundances of chlorine and bromine, due to the Montreal Protocol and its amendments. However, ozone increases in the lowest part of the stratosphere, from the tropopause to 18 km, account for about half of the improvement in total column ozone during the past 9 years at Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. The increase in ozone for altitudes below 18 km is most likely driven by changes in transport, rather than driven by declining chlorine and bromine. Even with this evidence that the Montreal Protocol and its amendments are having the desired, positive effect on ozone above 18 km, total column ozone is recovering faster than expected because of the apparent transport driven changes at lower altitudes. Accurate prediction of future levels of stratospheric ozone will require comprehensive understanding of the factors that drive temporal changes at various altitudes and partitioning of the recent transport-driven increases between natural variability and changes in atmospheric structure perhaps related to anthropogenic climate change.