Evaluation of the N2O Rate of Change to Understand the Stratospheric Brewer-Dobson Circulation in a Chemistry-Climate Model

Publication Name

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


The Brewer-Dobson Circulation (BDC) determines the distribution of long-lived tracers in the stratosphere; therefore, their changes can be used to diagnose changes in the BDC. We evaluate decadal (2005–2018) trends of nitrous oxide (N2O) in two versions of the Whole Atmosphere Chemistry-Climate Model (WACCM) by comparing them with measurements from four Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) ground-based instruments, the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS), and with a chemistry-transport model (CTM) driven by four different reanalyses. The limited sensitivity of the FTIR instruments can hide negative N2O trends in the mid-stratosphere because of the large increase in the lowermost stratosphere. When applying ACE-FTS measurement sampling on model datasets, the reanalyses from the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) compare best with ACE-FTS, but the N2O trends are consistently exaggerated. The N2O trends obtained with WACCM disagree with those obtained from ACE-FTS, but the new WACCM version performs better than the previous above the Southern Hemisphere in the stratosphere. Model sensitivity tests show that the decadal N2O trends reflect changes in the stratospheric transport. We further investigate the N2O Transformed Eulerian Mean (TEM) budget in WACCM and in the CTM simulation driven by the latest ECMWF reanalysis. The TEM analysis shows that enhanced advection affects the stratospheric N2O trends in the Tropics. While no ideal observational dataset currently exists, this model study of N2O trends still provides new insights about the BDC and its changes because of the contribution from relevant sensitivity tests and the TEM analysis.

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Funding Sponsor

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research



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