** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences

    Revisiting ozone measurements as an indicator of tropical width

    Davis S, Hassler B, Rosenlof K

    Ozone, Tropical width, Tropical widening, Hadley cell, Stratosphere

    The total column ozone (TCO) amount varies with latitude, in part due to the difference in tropopause height between the tropics and midlatitudes. This dependency of TCO on latitude has been used to identify the latitudes of the tropical edges and to compute their variations in time. The previously reported poleward movement of the tropical edge latitudes computed from satellite TCO measurements over the past several decades is greater than 3° latitude per decade. This tropical widening rate is significantly larger than a number of independent estimates and if correct suggests a major deficiency in the representation of tropical widening in models. We revisit the previously used TCO tropical edge latitude diagnostic to extend it forward in time with a new data set and to assess its robustness through comparisons with independent tropical edge diagnostics. We find that the previous TCO-based tropical width timeseries contain a spurious jump, likely due to data inhomogeneities. After removal of this jump using an objective statistical breakpoint identification technique, TCO-based tropical widening is reduced to the point that it is not significantly different than other tropical widening estimates. The strong sensitivity of the TCO method to algorithmic choices, its out-of-phase seasonality in the Northern Hemisphere, and its lack of correlation with well-established tropical width metrics on interannual timescales support our conclusion that the TCO-based tropical width diagnostic as previously implemented is not a robust measure of tropical width.