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Science. 2011 May 20;332(6032):951-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1202131. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Impact of polar ozone depletion on subtropical precipitation.

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  • 1Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. smk2182@columbia.edu

Abstract

Over the past half-century, the ozone hole has caused a poleward shift of the extratropical westerly jet in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, we argue that these extratropical circulation changes, resulting from ozone depletion, have substantially contributed to subtropical precipitation changes. Specifically, we show that precipitation in the southern subtropics in austral summer increases significantly when climate models are integrated with reduced polar ozone concentrations. Furthermore, the observed patterns of subtropical precipitation change, from 1979 to 2000, are very similar to those in our model integrations, where ozone depletion alone is prescribed. In both climate models and observations, the subtropical moistening is linked to a poleward shift of the extratropical westerly jet. Our results highlight the importance of polar regions for the subtropical hydrological cycle.

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