On the possible causes of recent increases in northern hemispheric total ozone from a statistical analysis of satellite data from 1979 to 2003
Global total ozone measurements from various satellite instruments such as SBUV, TOMS, and GOME show an increase in zonal mean total ozone at northern hemispheric (NH) mid to high latitudes since the mid-nineties. This increase could be expected from the peaking and start of decline in the effective stratospheric halogen loading, but the rather rapid increase observed in NH zonal mean total ozone suggests that another physical mechanism such as winter planetary wave activity has increased which has led to higher stratospheric Arctic temperatures. This has enhanced ozone transport into higher latitudes in recent years as part of the residual circulation and at the same time reduced the frequency of cold Arctic winters with enhanced polar ozone loss. Results from various multi-variate linear regression analyses using SBUV V8 total ozone with explanatory variables such as a linear trend or, alternatively, EESC (equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine) and on the other hand planetary wave driving (eddy heat flux) or, alternatively, polar ozone loss (PSC volume) in addition to proxies for stratospheric aerosol loading, QBO, and solar cycle, all considered to be main drivers for ozone variability, are presented. It is shown that the main contribution to the recent increase in NH total ozone is from the combined effect of rising tropospheric driven planetary wave activity associated with reduced polar ozone loss at high latitudes as well as increasing solar activity. This conclusion can be drawn regardless of the use of linear trend or EESC terms in our statistical model. It is also clear that more years of data will be needed to further improve our estimates of the relative contributions of the individual processes to decadal ozone variability. The question remains if the observed increase in planetary wave driving is part of natural decadal atmospheric variability or will persist. If the latter is the case, it could be interpreted as a possible signature of climate change.