Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unusually Small Ozone Hole Attributed To Strong Upper Level Weather Systems

Date:
October 1, 2002
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists from NASA and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the ozone hole over the Antarctic this September is not only much smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001, but has split into two separate "holes."

Scientists from NASA and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the ozone hole over the Antarctic this September is not only much smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001, but has split into two separate "holes."

The researchers stressed the smaller hole is due to this year's peculiar stratospheric weather patterns and that a single year's unusual pattern does not make a long-term trend. Moreover, they said, the data are not conclusive that the ozone layer is recovering.

Paul Newman, a lead ozone researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., said this year, warmer-than-normal temperatures around the edge of the polar vortex that forms annually in the stratosphere over Antarctica are responsible for the smaller ozone loss.

Estimates for the last two weeks of the size of the Antarctic Ozone Hole (the region with total column ozone below 220 Dobson Units), from the NASA Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EPTOMS) and the NOAA-16 Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instrument (SBUV/2), are around 15 million square kilometers (6 million square miles). These values are well below the more-than 24 million sq. km. (9 million sq. mi.) seen the last six years for the same time of year.

The stratosphere is a portion of the atmosphere about 6-to-30 miles above the Earth's surface where the ozone layer is found. The ozone layer prevents the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth's surface. Ultraviolet radiation is a primary cause of skin cancer. Without protective upper-level ozone, there would be no life on Earth.

"The Southern Hemisphere's stratosphere was unusually disturbed this year," said Craig Long, meteorologist at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC). The unusual weather patterns were so strong, the ozone hole split into two pieces during late September. NOAA's CPC has been monitoring and studying the ozone since the early 1970s. "This is the first time we've seen the polar vortex split in September," said Long.

At South Pole Station, balloon-borne ozone-measuring instruments launched by NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) reveal the vertical structure of the developing ozone hole. Bryan Johnson, a scientist with CMDL, said the main ozone depletion region, from 7-to-14 miles above the Earth, has large ozone losses, similar to the last few years. At more than 15 miles above the Earth, surface measurements show higher-than-normal ozone concentrations and higher temperatures.

The combination of these layers indicate total ozone levels in a column of atmosphere will be higher than observed during the last few years, Johnson said. However, some layers may still show complete ozone destruction by early October, when ozone depletion is greatest.

In 2001, the Antarctic ozone hole was larger than the combined area of the United States, Canada and Mexico. The last time the ozone hole was this small was in 1988, and that was also due to warm atmospheric temperatures.

"While chlorine and bromine chemicals cause the ozone hole, temperature is also a key factor in ozone loss," Newman said. The Montreal Protocol and its amendments banned chlorine-containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromine-containing halons in 1995, because of their destructive effect on the ozone layer. However, CFCs and halons are extremely long-lived and still linger at high concentrations in the atmosphere.

The coldest temperatures over the South Pole typically occur in August and September. Thin clouds form in these cold conditions, and chemical reactions on the cloud particles help chlorine and bromine gases to rapidly destroy ozone. By early October, temperatures usually begin to warm, and thereafter the ozone layer starts to recover.

NOAA and NASA continuously observe Antarctic ozone with a combination of ground, balloon, and satellite-based instruments.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Unusually Small Ozone Hole Attributed To Strong Upper Level Weather Systems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021001035852.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2002, October 1). Unusually Small Ozone Hole Attributed To Strong Upper Level Weather Systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021001035852.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Unusually Small Ozone Hole Attributed To Strong Upper Level Weather Systems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021001035852.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins