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 New insights into the ancestors of all complex life
29.05.2017 | University of Bristol

nachricht A 3-D look at the 2015 El Niño
29.05.2017 | 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: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>