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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 6 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 8, 2019-2029, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-8-2019-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 10 Dec 2012

Research article | 10 Dec 2012

Radiative effects of ozone on the climate of a Snowball Earth

J. Yang1, Y. Hu1, and W. R. Peltier2 J. Yang et al.
  • 1Laboratory for Climate and Ocean-Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Abstract. Some geochemical and geological evidence has been interpreted to suggest that the concentration of atmospheric oxygen was only 1–10 % of the present level in the time interval from 750 to 580 million years ago when several nearly global glaciations or Snowball Earth events occurred. This low concentration of oxygen would have been accompanied by a lower ozone concentration than exists at present. Since ozone is a greenhouse gas, this change in ozone concentration would alter surface temperature, and thereby could have an important influence on the climate of the Snowball Earth. Previous works that have focused either on initiation or deglaciation of the proposed Snowball Earth has not taken the radiative effects of ozone changes into account. We address this issue herein by performing a series of simulations using an atmospheric general circulation model with various ozone concentrations.

Our simulation results demonstrate that, as ozone concentration is uniformly reduced from 100 % to 50 %, surface temperature decreases by approximately 0.8 K at the Equator, with the largest decreases located in the middle latitudes reaching as high as 2.5 K. When ozone concentration is reduced and its vertical and horizontal distribution is simultaneously modulated, surface temperature decreases by 0.4–1.0 K at the Equator and by 4–7 K in polar regions. These results here have uncertainties, depending on model parameterizations of cloud, surface snow albedo, and relevant feedback processes, while they are qualitatively consistent with radiative-convective model results that do not involve such parameterizations and feedbacks. These results suggest that ozone variations could have had a moderate impact on the climate during the Neoproterozoic glaciations.

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