• ozone;
  • stratosphere;
  • trace gases

[1] Analysis of observed ozone profiles in Northern Hemisphere low and middle latitudes reveals the seasonal persistence of ozone anomalies in both the lower and upper stratosphere. Principal component analysis is used to detect that above 16 hPa the persistence is strongest in the latitude band 15–45°N, while below 16 hPa the strongest persistence is found over 45–60°N. In both cases, ozone anomalies persist through the entire year from November to October. The persistence of ozone anomalies in the lower stratosphere is presumably related to the wintertime ozone buildup with subsequent photochemical relaxation through summer, as previously found for total ozone. The persistence in the upper stratosphere is more surprising, given the short lifetime of Ox at these altitudes. It is hypothesized that this “seasonal memory” in the upper stratospheric ozone anomalies arises from the seasonal persistence of transport-induced wintertime NOy anomalies, which then perturb the ozone chemistry throughout the rest of the year. This hypothesis is confirmed by analysis of observations of NO2, NOx, and various long-lived trace gases in the upper stratosphere, which are found to exhibit the same seasonal persistence. Previous studies have attributed much of the year-to-year variability in wintertime extratropical upper stratospheric ozone to the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) through transport-induced NOy (and hence NO2) anomalies but have not identified any statistical connection between the QBO and summertime ozone variability. Our results imply that through this “seasonal memory,” the QBO has an asynchronous effect on ozone in the low to midlatitude upper stratosphere during summer and early autumn.