Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tibet Provides Passage for Chemicals to Reach the Stratosphere


NASA and university researchers have found that thunderstorms over Tibet provide a main pathway for water vapor and chemicals to travel from the lower atmosphere, where human activity directly affects atmospheric composition, into the stratosphere, where the protective ozone layer resides.

A trio of NASA satellites observe in synchrony the vertical structures of thunderstorms (lower track) and their influences on ice clouds (color shades), water vapor (contours) and pollutants just above Earth’s lower atmosphere (higher track). Image courtesy of Rong Fu, Cinda Gillilan, Jonathan H. Jiang and Brian Knosp.

Learning how water vapor reaches the stratosphere can help improve climate prediction models. Similarly, understanding the pathways that ozone-depleting chemicals can take to reach the stratosphere is essential for understanding future threats to the ozone layer, which shields Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, performed their analysis using data from the Microwave Limb Sounder instrument on NASA’s Aura spacecraft, combined with data from NASA’s Aqua and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Missions.

The team collected more than 1,000 measurements of high concentrations of water vapor in the stratosphere over the Tibetan Plateau and the Asian monsoon region. The measurements were collected during August 2004 and August 2005, during the height of monsoon season. Through the use of wind data and NASA atmospheric models, they found the water vapor originated over Tibet, just north of the Himalayan mountain range.

The team also found that even though more thunderstorms occurred over India, the storms over Tibet transported nearly three times more water vapor into the lower stratosphere than the more frequent thunderstorms that occur over India.

"This study shows that thunderstorms over Tibet are mainly responsible for the large amount of water vapor entering the stratosphere," said Dr. Rong Fu, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who led the study. "The rainfall may not be as frequent over Tibet as over the Indian monsoon area, but because Tibet is at a much higher elevation than India, the storms over Tibet are strong and penetrate very high, and send water vapor right into the stratosphere."

The study also found that the same pathway is responsible for transporting carbon monoxide, an indicator of air pollution, into the upper atmosphere.

"There’s almost no carbon monoxide production in Tibet, so it’s widely believed that carbon monoxide is transported to the tropopause over Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent,” Fu said. The tropopause divides the lower atmosphere from the stratosphere, and is located at an altitude of about 18 kilometers (11 miles) above Earth over the tropics and Tibet.

Fu added, "Our study finds thunderstorms over Tibet transport as much carbon monoxide to the lower stratosphere as do those over India. When long-lived pollutants are transported out of the lower atmosphere, they can move rapidly. Pollutants from Asia, for example, can wind up on the other side of the world."

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aura, Aqua and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission are part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System, and are managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Aura’s Microwave Limb Sounder was built by JPL.

For more information on the Microwave Limb Sounder and Aura, visit: and .

For information on Aqua and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, visit: and .

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.

David Terraso | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data
22.03.2018 | University of Southampton

nachricht New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world
22.03.2018 | University of Cincinnati

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>