A pause in Southern Hemisphere circulation trends due to the Montreal Protocol

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From: Nature(Vol. 579, Issue 7800)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Document Type: Report
Length: 8,802 words
Lexile Measure: 1460L

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Abstract :

Observations show robust near-surface trends in Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation towards the end of the twentieth century, including a poleward shift in the mid-latitude jet.sup.1,2, a positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode.sup.1,3-6 and an expansion of the Hadley cell.sup.7,8. It has been established that these trends were driven by ozone depletion in the Antarctic stratosphere due to emissions of ozone-depleting substances.sup.9-11. Here we show that these widely reported circulation trends paused, or slightly reversed, around the year 2000. Using a pattern-based detection and attribution analysis of atmospheric zonal wind, we show that the pause in circulation trends is forced by human activities, and has not occurred owing only to internal or natural variability of the climate system. Furthermore, we demonstrate that stratospheric ozone recovery, resulting from the Montreal Protocol, is the key driver of the pause. Because pre-2000 circulation trends have affected precipitation.sup.12-14, and potentially ocean circulation and salinity.sup.15-17, we anticipate that a pause in these trends will have wider impacts on the Earth system. Signatures of the effects of the Montreal Protocol and the associated stratospheric ozone recovery might therefore manifest, or have already manifested, in other aspects of the Earth system. The recovery of stratospheric ozone in the Southern Hemisphere in the wake of the Montreal Protocol is driving a pause in atmospheric circulation trends that warrants closer scrutiny across the Earth system.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A618606595