Stratospheric and upper tropospheric processes for better climate predictions

The limited understanding of the role of aerosols in the climate system has been highlighted as a key area of uncertainty in the recent IPCC report. In recognizing the importance of improving climate predictions as a basis for developing sustainable policies for Europe, the European Union has initiated the research cluster "Aerosols and Climate" funded by the European Commission 7th Framework programme. The cluster is a collaborative effort of four individual research projects, each targeting different aspects of aerosols in the climate system.

StratoClim’s main objective is to produce more reliable projections of climate change and stratospheric ozone by improving the understanding of key processes in the Upper Troposphere and Stratosphere (UTS).

The project objective will be achieved by an integrated approach bridging observations from dedicated field activities, process modelling, and global modelling with a suite of chemistry climate models (CCMs) and Earth system models (ESMs).

At present, complex interactions and feedbacks are inadequately represented in the global models with respect to natural and anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, aerosol precursors and other important trace gases, the atmospheric dynamics affecting transport into and through the UTS, and chemical and microphysical processes governing the chemistry and the radiative properties of the UTS.

StratoClim will
(a) improve the understanding of the microphysical, chemical and dynamical processes that determine the composition of the UTS, such as the formation, loss and redistribution of aerosol, ozone and water vapour, and how these processes will be affected by climate change;
(b) implement these processes and fully include the interactive feedback from UTS ozone and aerosol on surface climate in CCMs and ESMs.

Through StratoClim, new measurements will be obtained in following key campaigns:

(1) a high altitude research aircraft campaign in the Asian Monsoon area deploying an innovative and comprehensive payload,
(2) a tropical ground station on Palau Island in the West Pacific and via network of stations on the Indian subcontinent for unprecedented ground and sonde measurements, and
(3) through newly developed satellite data products.

The improved climate models will be used to make more robust and accurate predictions of surface climate and stratospheric ozone, both with a view to the protection of life on Earth. Socioeconomic implications will be assessed and policy relevant information will be communicated to policy makers and the public through a dedicated office for communication, stakeholder contact and international co-operation.