Decadal variability of the tropical stratosphere: Secondary influence of the El NiñoSouthern Oscillation

L. L. Hood, B. E. Soukharev, J. P. McCormack

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32 Scopus citations


A decadal variation of tropical lower stratospheric ozone and temperature has previously been identified that correlates positively with the 11 year solar activity cycle. However, the El NiñoSouthern Oscillation (ENSO) also influences lower stratospheric ozone and temperature. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether quasi-decadal ENSO variability can contribute to this apparent solar cycle variation, either accidentally because of the short measurement record or physically because solar variability affects ENSO. Here we present multiple regression analyses of available data records to compare differences in results obtained with and without including an ENSO term in the statistical model. In addition, simulations are performed using the NRL NOGAPS-ALPHA GCM for warm/cold ENSO conditions to test for consistency with the ENSO regression results. We find only very minor changes in annual mean solar regression coefficients when an ENSO term is included. However, the observed tropical ENSO response provides useful insights into the origin of the unexpected vertical structure of the tropical solar cycle ozone response. In particular, the ENSO ozone response is negative in the lower stratosphere due to increased upwelling but changes sign, becoming positive in the middle stratosphere (510 hPa) due mainly to advective decreases of temperature and NOx, which photochemically increase ozone. A similar mechanism may explain the observed lower stratospheric solar cycle ozone and temperature response and the absence of a significant response in the tropical middle stratosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD11113
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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