Analysis of European ozone trends in the period 1995–2014
Surface-based measurements from the EMEP and Airbase networks are used to estimate the changes in surface ozone levels during the 1995–2014 period over Europe. We find significant ozone enhancements (0.20–0.59 µg m −3 yr −1 for the annual means; P-value < 0.01 according to an F-test) over the European suburban and urban stations during 1995–2012 based on the Airbase sites. For European background ozone observed at EMEP sites, it is shown that a significantly decreasing trend in the 95th percentile ozone concentrations has occurred, especially at noon (0.9 µg m −3 yr −1; P-value < 0.01), while the 5th percentile ozone concentrations continued to increase with a trend of 0.3 µg m −3 yr −1 ( P-value < 0.01) during the study period. With the help of numerical simulations performed with the global chemistry-climate model EMAC, the importance of anthropogenic emissions changes in determining these changes over background sites are investigated. The EMAC model is found to successfully capture the observed temporal variability in mean ozone concentrations, as well as the contrast in the trends of 95th and 5th percentile ozone over Europe. Sensitivity simulations and statistical analysis show that a decrease in European anthropogenic emissions had contrasting effects on surface ozone trends between the 95th and 5th percentile levels and that background ozone levels have been influenced by hemispheric transport, while climate variability generally regulated the inter-annual variations of surface ozone in Europe.