Detecting the recovery of total column ozone

Elizabeth C. Weatherhead, Gregory C. Reinsel, George C. Tiao, Charles H. Jackman, Lane Bishop, Stacey M. Hollandsworth Frith, John DeLuisi, Teddie Keller, Samuel J. Oltmans, Eric L. Fleming, Donald J. Wuebbles, James B. Kerr, Alvin J. Miller, Jay Herman, Richard McPeters, Ronald M. Nagatani, John E. Frederick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International agreements for the limitation of ozone-depleting substances have already resulted in decreases in concentrations of some of these chemicals in the troposphere. Full compliance and understanding of all factors contributing to ozone depletion are still uncertain; however, reasonable expectations are for a gradual recovery of the ozone layer over the next 50 years. Because of the complexity of the processes involved in ozone depletion, it is crucial to detect not just a decrease in ozone-depleting substances but also a recovery in the ozone layer. The recovery is likely to be detected in some areas sooner than others because of natural variability in ozone concentrations. On the basis of both the magnitude and autocorrelation of the noise from Nimbus 7 Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer ozone measurements, estimates of the time required to detect a fixed trend in ozone at various locations around the world are presented. Predictions from the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) two-dimensional chemical model are used to estimate the time required to detect predicted trends in different areas of the world. The analysis is based on our current understanding of ozone chemistry, full compliance with the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, and no intervening factors, such as major volcanic eruptions or enhanced stratospheric cooling. The results indicate that recovery of total column ozone is likely to be detected earliest in the Southern Hemisphere near New Zealand, southern Africa, and southern South America and that the range of time expected to detect recovery for most regions of the world is between 15 and 45 years. Should the recovery be slower than predicted by the GSFC model, owing, for instance, to the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, or should measurement sites be perturbed, even longer times would be needed for detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000JD900063
Pages (from-to)22201-22210
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue numberD17
StatePublished - Sep 16 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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