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 Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents
12.12.2017 | Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

nachricht How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>