Technical note: Unsupervised classification of ozone profiles in UKESM1
The vertical distribution of ozone in the atmosphere, which features complex spatial and temporal variability set by a balance of production, loss, and advection, is relevant for both surface air pollution and climate via its role in radiative forcing. At present, the way in which regions of coherent ozone structure are defined relies on somewhat arbitrarily drawn boundaries. Here we consider a more general, data-driven method for defining coherent regimes of ozone structure. We apply an unsupervised classification technique called Gaussian mixture modeling (GMM), which represents the underlying distribution of ozone profiles as a linear combination of multi-dimensional Gaussian functions. In doing so, GMM identifies coherent groups or subpopulations of the ozone profile distribution. As a proof-of-concept study, we apply GMM to ozone profiles from three subsets of the UKESM1 coupled climate model runs carried out for CMIP6: specifically, the seasonal mean of a historical subset (2009–2014) and two subsets from two different future climate projections (i.e., SSP1-2.6 and SSP5-8.5). Despite not being given any spatiotemporal information, GMM identifies several spatially coherent regions of ozone structure. Using a combination of statistical guidance and post hoc judgment, we select a six-class representation of global ozone, consisting of two tropical classes and four mid-to-high-latitude classes. The tropical classes feature a relatively high-altitude tropopause, while the higher-latitude classes feature a lower-altitude tropopause and low values of tropospheric ozone, as expected based on broad patterns observed in the atmosphere. Both of the future projections feature lower ozone concentrations at 850 hPa than the historical benchmark, with signatures of ozone hole recovery. We find that the area occupied by the tropical classes is expanded in both future projections, which are most prominent during austral summer. Our results suggest that GMM may be a useful method for identifying coherent ozone regimes, particularly in the context of model analysis.
Authors: Fahrin, Fouzia, Jones, Daniel C. ORCID record for Daniel C. Jones, Wu, Yan, Keeble, James, Archibald, Alexander T.