Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Tropospheric ozone and El Niño–Southern Oscillation: Influence of atmospheric dynamics, biomass burning emissions, and future climate change



[1] We investigate how El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences tropospheric ozone and its precursors in a coupled climate-chemistry model. As shown in similar studies, tropospheric column ozone (TCO) decreases in the central and east Pacific and increases in the west Pacific/Indonesia in response to circulation and convective changes during El Niño conditions. Simulated changes in TCO for “peak” El Niño events in the central and east Pacific are in good agreement but are underestimated in the west Pacific compared to previous observational and modeling studies for October 1997. Tropospheric column-average NOx decreases over Indonesia and generally over South America as a result of suppressed convection and lightning over these land regions. NOx and HOx changes during El Niño modify ozone chemical production and destruction. When we include annually varying biomass burning emissions in our model simulations we find that these emissions peak over Indonesia 1–2 months in advance of the peak elevated sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) and hence the “meteorological” El Niño. We underestimate the strength of the TCO increase due to El Niño–related dry conditions over Indonesia in October 1997 compared to observations. We also examine how future mean and variability changes in ENSO, as simulated in the HadCM3 climate model, impacts tropospheric ozone. A mean future El Niño–like state is simulated in the tropical Pacific in HadCM3, but this has no discernable impact on the future TCO trend in this region. However, we do simulate increased variability in precipitation and TCO related to ENSO in the future.