Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 8651-8660, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
16 Nov 2009
Sensitivity of polar stratospheric ozone loss to uncertainties in chemical reaction kinetics
S. R. Kawa1, R. S. Stolarski1, P. A. Newman1, A. R. Douglass1, M. Rex2, D. J. Hofmann3, M. L. Santee4, and K. Frieler2,*
1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
3National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth Systems Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
*now at: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. The impact and significance of uncertainties in model calculations of stratospheric ozone loss resulting from known uncertainty in chemical kinetics parameters is evaluated in trajectory chemistry simulations for the Antarctic and Arctic polar vortices. The uncertainty in modeled ozone loss is derived from Monte Carlo scenario simulations varying the kinetic (reaction and photolysis rate) parameters within their estimated uncertainty bounds. Simulations of a typical winter/spring Antarctic vortex scenario and Match scenarios in the Arctic produce large uncertainty in ozone loss rates and integrated seasonal loss. The simulations clearly indicate that the dominant source of model uncertainty in polar ozone loss is uncertainty in the Cl2O2 photolysis reaction, which arises from uncertainty in laboratory-measured molecular cross sections at atmospherically important wavelengths. This estimated uncertainty in JCl2O2 from laboratory measurements seriously hinders our ability to model polar ozone loss within useful quantitative error limits. Atmospheric observations, however, suggest that the Cl2O2 photolysis uncertainty may be less than that derived from the lab data. Comparisons to Match, South Pole ozonesonde, and Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) data all show that the nominal recommended rate simulations agree with data within uncertainties when the Cl2O2 photolysis error is reduced by a factor of two, in line with previous in situ ClOx measurements. Comparisons to simulations using recent cross sections from Pope et al. (2007) are outside the constrained error bounds in each case. Other reactions producing significant sensitivity in polar ozone loss include BrO + ClO and its branching ratios. These uncertainties challenge our confidence in modeling polar ozone depletion and projecting future changes in response to changing halogen emissions and climate. Further laboratory, theoretical, and possibly atmospheric studies are needed.

Citation: Kawa, S. R., Stolarski, R. S., Newman, P. A., Douglass, A. R., Rex, M., Hofmann, D. J., Santee, M. L., and Frieler, K.: Sensitivity of polar stratospheric ozone loss to uncertainties in chemical reaction kinetics, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 8651-8660, doi:10.5194/acp-9-8651-2009, 2009.
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