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 Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

nachricht What makes erionite carcinogenic?
13.01.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>