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 Earths 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 suns 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.
David Terraso | EurekAlert!
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