Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Huge 2004 Stratospheric Ozone Loss Tied to Solar Storms, Arctic Winds

03.03.2005


Nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide gases in the upper stratosphere climbed to their highest levels in at least two decades in spring 2004, scientists report. The increases led to ozone reductions of up to 60 percent, roughly 40 kilometers [25 miles] above Earth’s high northern latitudes, according to Cora Randall of University of Colorado at Boulder and 10 colleagues in Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. Two natural processes were responsible, they say.

"This decline was completely unexpected," Randall said. "The findings point out a critical need to better understand the processes occurring in the ozone layer." Randall, a researcher at the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, is lead author of a paper on the subject scheduled for publication 2 March in Geophysical Research Letters. She and her international team studied data from seven different satellites, concluding that both the Sun and stratospheric weather were responsible for the ozone declines.

Winds in the upper part of a massive winter low-pressure system, which confines air over the Arctic region and is known as the polar stratospheric vortex, sped up in February and March 2004 to become the strongest on record, she said. The spinning vortex allowed the nitrogen gases, thought to have formed at least 30 kilometers [20 miles] above the stratosphere as a result of chemical reactions triggered by energetic particles from the Sun, to descend more easily into the stratosphere.



The increases in the two nitrogen gases -- collectively known as nitrogen oxides or NOx -- are important because they are major players in the stratospheric ozone destruction process, said Randall. The team concluded that some of the extra nitrogen oxides was actually formed after huge quantities of energetic particles from the Sun bombarded Earth’s atmosphere during the massive solar storms of October-November 2003.

"No one predicted the dramatic loss of ozone in the upper stratosphere of the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2004," she said. "That we can still be surprised illustrates the difficulties in separating atmospheric effects due to natural and human-induced causes. "This study demonstrates that scientists searching for signs of ozone recovery need to factor in the atmospheric effects of energetic particles, something they do not now do."

The 2004 enhancements of nitrogen oxides gases in the upper stratosphere and subsequent ozone losses occurred over the Arctic and the northern areas of North America, Europe, and Asia, said the paper’s authors. Severe ozone losses also can occur during winter and spring in the stratosphere at about 20 kilometers [12 miles] in altitude, driven primarily by very cold temperatures, they said.

Because of seasonal conditions, the researchers are unable to measure the precise contributions of solar storms and stratospheric weather to the nitrogen oxides spike seen in the stratosphere last year. "No observations of upper atmospheric nitrogen gases are available in the polar region in the winter, so the descending nitrogen oxides cannot be traced to its origin," said Randall.

Stratospheric ozone, a form of oxygen, protects life on Earth from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. The ozone layer has thinned markedly in high latitudes of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in recent decades, primarily due to reactions involving chlorofluorocarbons and other industrial gases. Scientists credit the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that is phasing out the production and use of such ozone-destroying compounds, for helping the protective ozone layer to be restored by the middle of this century.

Randall’s co-authors include researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Hampton University and GATS Inc; York University in Canada; Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden; and the Norwegian Institute for Air Research. They analyzed data from satellite instruments, including POAM II, POAM III, SAGE II, SAGE III, HALOE, MIPAS and OSIRIS for the study, which was funded by NASA, the European Union Commission, and the European Space Agency.

Harvey Leifert | AGU
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A new dead zone in the Indian Ocean could impact future marine nutrient balance
06.12.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>