The importance of atmospheric chemistry in the calculation of radiative forcing on the climate system


  • D. A. Hauglustaine,

  • C. Granier,

  • G. P. Brasseur,

  • G. Mégie


An interactive two-dimensional model of the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, in which dynamics, radiation, and chemistry are treated interactively, is used to investigate the anthropogenic changes in the steady state chemical composition of the atmosphere since preindustrial times and to assess the associated changes in radiative forcing on climate. The perturbations in the atmospheric oxidation capacity due to anthropogenic emissions of source gases are found to be significant. In the troposphere, an ozone increase of 80–120% at northern midlatitudes and a global decrease of 10–20% in the OH concentration since the preindustrial period are calculated. In the polar lower stratosphere of the southern hemisphere, an ozone depletion since preindustrial times reaching more than 60% during spring is calculated as a result of rapid catalytical destruction of ozone by chlorine radicals in the presence of polar stratospheric clouds. Particular attention is given to the induced changes in radiative forcing. These results stress the potentially important role of chemical feedbacks on climate and indicate that the direct forcing associated with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases is enhanced by about 30% when these feedbacks are taken into account. On a global average basis, the greenhouse effect of tropospheric ozone represents approximately 17% of the total radiative perturbation. This forcing is characterized by a strong latitudinal dependence, peaking at midlatitudes in the northern hemisphere. The importance of indirect climate forcings by stratospheric ozone (including local cooling of the stratosphere) is confirmed. It is found that the net (solar + infrared) indirect effect of stratospheric ozone changes is to increase the chlorofluorocarbon direct radiative forcing. On the other hand, the change in the longwave forcing associated with water vapor increase in the stratosphere appears to play a minor role.