1Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD, USA
2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
4Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
Abstract. The 11-yr solar cycle in solar spectral irradiance (SSI) inferred from measurements by the SOlar Radiation & Climate Experiment (SORCE) suggests a much larger variation in the ultraviolet than previously accepted. We present middle atmosphere ozone and temperature responses to the solar cycles in SORCE SSI and the ubiquitous Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) SSI reconstruction using the Goddard Earth Observing System chemistry-climate model (GEOSCCM). The results are largely consistent with other recent modeling studies. The modeled ozone response is positive throughout the stratosphere and lower mesosphere using the NRL SSI, while the SORCE SSI produces a response that is larger in the lower stratosphere but out of phase with respect to total solar irradiance above 45 km. The modeled responses in total ozone are similar to those derived from satellite and ground-based measurements, 3–6 Dobson Units per 100 units of 10.7-cm radio flux (F10.7) in the tropics. The peak zonal mean tropical temperature response using the SORCE SSI is nearly 2 K per 100 units F10.7 – 3 times larger than the simulation using the NRL SSI. The GEOSCCM and the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) 2-D coupled model are used to examine how the SSI solar cycle affects the atmosphere through direct solar heating and photolysis processes individually. Middle atmosphere ozone is affected almost entirely through photolysis, whereas the solar cycle in temperature is caused both through direct heating and photolysis feedbacks, processes that are mostly linearly separable. This is important in that it means that chemistry-transport models should simulate the solar cycle in ozone well, while general circulation models without coupled chemistry will underestimate the temperature response to the solar cycle significantly in the middle atmosphere. Further, the net ozone response results from the balance of ozone production at wavelengths less than 242 nm and destruction at longer wavelengths, coincidentally corresponding to the wavelength regimes of the SOLar STellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE) and Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM) on SORCE, respectively. A higher wavelength-resolution analysis of the spectral response could allow for a better prediction of the atmospheric response to arbitrary SSI variations.