Interannual variability in tropospheric nitrous oxide

R. L. Thompson*, E. Dlugokencky, F. Chevallier, P. Ciais, G. Dutton, J. W. Elkins, R. L. Langenfelds, R. G. Prinn, R. F. Weiss, Y. Tohjima, S. O'Doherty, P. B. Krummel, P. Fraser, L. P. Steele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Observations of tropospheric N2O mixing ratio show significant variability on interannual timescales (0.2ppb, 1 standard deviation). We found that interannual variability in N2O is weakly correlated with that in CFC-12 and SF6 for the northern extratropics and more strongly correlated for the southern extratropics, suggesting that interannual variability in all these species is influenced by large-scale atmospheric circulation changes and, for SF6 in particular, interhemispheric transport. N2O interannual variability was not, however, correlated with polar lower stratospheric temperature, which is used as a proxy for stratosphere-to-troposphere transport in the extratropics. This suggests that stratosphere-to-troposphere transport is not a dominant factor in year-to-year variations in N2O growth rate. Instead, we found strong correlations of N2O interannual variability with the Multivariate ENSO Index. The climate variables, precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature were also found to be significantly correlated with N2O interannual variability, suggesting that climate-driven changes in soil N2O flux may be important for variations in N2O growth rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4426-4431
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2013


  • nitrous oxide
  • ENSO
  • interannual variability
  • N2O


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