Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change and atmospheric circulation will make for uneven ozone recovery

15.04.2009
Earth's ozone layer should eventually recover from the unintended destruction brought on by the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar ozone-depleting chemicals in the 20th century. But new research by NASA scientists suggests the ozone layer of the future is unlikely to look much like the past because greenhouse gases are changing the dynamics of the atmosphere.

Previous studies have shown that while the buildup of greenhouse gases makes it warmer in troposphere – the level of atmosphere from Earth's surface up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) altitude – it actually cools the upper stratosphere – between 30 to 50 kilometers high (18 to 31 miles).

This cooling slows the chemical reactions that deplete ozone in the upper stratosphere and allows natural ozone production in that region to outpace destruction by CFCs.

But the accumulation of greenhouse gases also changes the circulation of stratospheric air masses from the tropics to the poles, NASA scientists note. In Earth's middle latitudes, that means ozone is likely to "over-recover," growing to concentrations higher than they were before the mass production of CFCs. In the tropics, stratospheric circulation changes could prevent the ozone layer from fully recovering.

"Most studies of ozone and global change have focused on cooling in the upper stratosphere," said Feng Li, an atmospheric scientist at the Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Md. and lead author of the study. "But we find circulation is just as important. It's not one process or the other, but both."

The findings are based on a detailed computer model that includes atmospheric chemical effects, wind changes, and solar radiation changes. Li's experiment is part of an ongoing international effort organized by the United Nations Environment Programme's Scientific Assessment Panel to assess the state of the ozone layer. Li and colleagues published their analysis in March in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Working with Richard Stolarski and Paul Newman of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., Li adapted the Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry-Climate Model (GEOS-CCM) to examine how climate change will affect ozone recovery. The team inserted past measurements and future projections of ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases into the model. Then the model projected how ozone, the overall chemistry, and the dynamics of the stratosphere would change through the year 2100.

"In the real world, we have observed statistically significant turnaround in ozone depletion, which can be attributed to the banning of ozone-depleting substances," said Richard Stolarski, an atmospheric chemist at Goddard and a co-author of the study. "But making that connection is complicated by the response of ozone to greenhouse gases."

The researchers found that greenhouse gases alter a natural circulation pattern that influences ozone distribution. Brewer-Dobson circulation is like a pump to the stratosphere, moving ozone from the lower parts of the atmosphere, into the upper stratosphere over the tropics. Air masses then flow north or south through the stratosphere, away from the tropics toward the poles.

In Li's experiment, this circulation pump accelerated to a rate where the ozone flowing upward and outward from the tropics created a surplus at middle latitudes. Though the concentration of chlorine and other ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere will not return to pre-1980 levels until 2060, the ozone layer over middle latitudes recovered to pre-1980 levels by 2025.

The Arctic – which is better connected to mid-latitude air masses than the Antarctic -- benefitted from the surplus in the northern hemisphere and from the overall decline of ozone-depleting substances to recover by 2025. Globally averaged ozone and Antarctic concentrations catch up by 2040, as natural atmospheric production of ozone resumes.

This recovery in the middle and polar latitudes has mixed consequences, Li noted. It might have some benefits, such as lower levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth's surface and correspondingly lower rates of skin cancer. On the other hand, it could have unintended effects, such as increasing ozone levels in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere at Earth's surface. The model also shows a continuing ozone deficit in the stratosphere over the tropics. In fact, when the model run ended at year 2100, the ozone layer over the tropics still showed no signs of recovery.

In February, researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, teamed with Stolarski and other NASA scientists on a similar paper suggesting that increasing greenhouse gases would delay or even postpone the recovery of ozone levels in the lower stratosphere over some parts of the globe. Using the same model as Li, Stolarski, and Newman, the researchers found that the lower stratosphere over tropical and mid-southern latitudes might not return to pre-1980s levels of ozone for more than a century, if ever.

Sarah DeWitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/ozone_recovery.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

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

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>