Ultraviolet Radiation and Stratospheric Ozone

Author: Richard S. Stolarski
Affiliation: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun produces ozone in the stratosphere and it participates in the destruction of ozone. Absorption of solar ultraviolet radiation by ozone is the primary heating mechanism leading to the maximum in temperature at the stratopause. Variations of solar ultraviolet radiation on both the 27-day solar rotation period and the 11-year solar cycle affect ozone by several mechanisms. The temperature and ozone in the upper stratosphere respond to solar uv variations as a coupled system. An increase in uv leads to an increase in the production of ozone through the photolysis of molecular oxygen. An increase in uv leads to an increase in temperature through the heating by ozone photolysis. The increase in temperature leads to a partially-offsetting decrease in ozone through temperature-dependent reaction rate coefficients. The ozone variation modulates the heating by ozone photolysis. The increase in ozone at solar maximum enhances the uv heating. The processes are understood and supported by long-term data sets.

Variation in the upper stratospheric temperatures will lead to a change in the behavior of waves propagating upward from the troposphere. Changes in the pattern of wave dissipation will lead to acceleration or deceleration of the mean flow and changes in the residual or transport circulation. This mechanism could lead to the propagation of the solar cycle effect of solar uv variation from the upper stratosphere downward to the lower stratosphere. This process is not well-understood and has been the subject of an increasing number of model studies. I will review the data analyses for solar cycle and their comparison to model results.