Seasonal variations of tropospheric ozone at Natal, Brazil


  • Jennifer A. Logan,

  • Volker W. J. H. Kirchhoff


We present an analysis of ozone measurements from Natal, Brazil (6°S, 35°W), with a focus on the seasonal behavior in the troposphere. The amplitude of the seasonal cycle at Natal is much larger than at Panama (9°N), the only other tropical site for which similar data are available. Concentrations of ozone in the middle troposphere in the southern spring are unexpectedly high, 60–70 ppb, similar to values found at northern mid-latitudes in summer, and larger by 20–30 ppb than values found at Panama and at southern mid-latitudes. We suggest that photochemical production of ozone associated with emissions of CO, hydrocarbons, and NOx from biomass burning may contribute significantly to the high values of ozone, but note that stratospheric intrusions could also play a role. The data available at present do not permit a definitive evaluation of the relative importance of these two sources of ozone. The data from Natal, in combination with recent aircraft and surface data, show that tropical ozone exhibits strong spatial and temporal inhomogeneities. The distribution of tropospheric ozone appears to be considerably more complex than the traditional view, which suggested a northern midlatitude maximum, and north/-south hemispheric asymmetry. The seasonal cycle in the total column of ozone at Natal appears to mirror the behavior of the tropospheric contribution to the ozone column rather than the stratospheric contribution, and this may account for differences in the annual cycle of the total column at Natal versus other tropical locations.