©2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Total columns of the trace gases nitric acid (HNO3) and hydrogen chloride (HCl) are sensitive to variations in the lower stratospheric age of air, a quantity that describes transport time scales in the stratosphere. Analyses of HNO3 and HCl columns from the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change panning 77°S to 79°N have detected changes in the extratropical stratospheric transport circulation from 1994 to 2018. The HNO3 and HCl analyses combined with the age of air from a simulation using the MERRA2 reanalysis show that the Southern Hemisphere lower stratosphere has become 1 month/decade younger relative to the Northern Hemisphere, largely driven by the Southern Hemisphere transport circulation. The analyses reveal multiyear anomalies with a 5- to 7-year period driven by interactions between the circulation and the quasi-biennial oscillation in tropical winds. This hitherto unrecognized variability is large relative to hemispheric transport trends and may bias ozone trend regressions.
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