Variability and past long-term changes of brominated very short-lived substances at the tropical tropopause

Susann Tegtmeier, Elliot Atlas, Birgit Quack, Franziska Ziska, Kirstin Krüger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Halogenated very short-lived substances (VSLSs), such as bromoform (CHBr3), can be transported to the stratosphere and contribute to the halogen loading and ozone depletion. Given their highly variable emission rates and their short atmospheric lifetimes, the exact amount as well as the spatio-temporal variability of their contribution to the stratospheric halogen loading are still uncertain. We combine observational data sets with Lagrangian atmospheric modelling in order to analyse the spatial and temporal variability of the CHBr3 injection into the stratosphere for the time period 1979-2013. Regional maxima with mixing ratios of up to 0.4-0.5 ppt at 17 km altitude are diagnosed to be over Central America (1) and over the Maritime Continent-west Pacific (2), both of which are confirmed by high-altitude aircraft campaigns. The CHBr3 maximum over Central America is caused by the co-occurrence of convectively driven short transport timescales and strong regional sources, which in conjunction drive the seasonality of CHBr3 injection. Model results at a daily resolution reveal isolated, exceptionally high CHBr3 values in this region which are confirmed by aircraft measurements during the ACCENT campaign and do not occur in spatially or temporally averaged model fields. CHBr3 injection over the west Pacific is centred south of the Equator due to strong oceanic sources underneath prescribed by the here-applied bottom-up emission inventory. The globally largest CHBr3 mixing ratios at the cold point level of up to 0.6 ppt are diagnosed to occur over the region of India, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea (3); however, no data from aircraft campaigns are available to confirm this finding. Inter-annual variability of stratospheric CHBr3 injection of 10 %-20% is to a large part driven by the variability of coupled ocean-atmosphere circulation systems. Longterm changes, on the other hand, correlate with the regional sea surface temperature trends resulting in positive trends of stratospheric CHBr3 injection over the west Pacific and Asian monsoon region and negative trends over the east Pacific. For the tropical mean, these opposite regional trends balance each other out, resulting in a relatively weak positive trend of 0.017±0.012 ppt Br per decade for 1979-2013, corresponding to 3%Br per decade. The overall contribution of CHBr3 together with CH2Br2 to the stratospheric halogen loading accounts for 4.7 ppt Br, in good agreement with existing studies, with 50% and 50% being injected in the form of source and product gases, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7103-7123
Number of pages21
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 16 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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