Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arctic Ozone Loss More Sensitive To Climate Change Than Thought

Date:
April 26, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
A cooperative study involving NASA scientists quantifies, for the first time, the relationship between Arctic ozone loss and changes in the temperature of Earth's stratosphere.

A polar bear sits atop a glacier in the Arctic. Image credit: Markus Rex / Courtesy NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

A cooperative study involving NASA scientists quantifies, for the first time, the relationship between Arctic ozone loss and changes in the temperature of Earth's stratosphere.

Related Articles


The results indicate the loss of Arctic ozone due to the presence of industrial chlorine and bromine in Earth's atmosphere may well be sensitive to subtle changes in stratospheric climate. Such ozone depletion leads to increased exposure to harmful, ultraviolet solar radiation at Earth's surface.

According to the study, the sensitivity of Arctic ozone to temperature is three times greater than predicted by atmospheric chemistry models. This leads to the possibility that decreases in stratospheric temperatures may have significantly larger impacts on future Arctic ozone concentrations than have been expected in the past. Dr. Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany, led the study. It also included scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The researchers analyzed more than 2,000 balloon measurements collected over the past 12 years. They found the amount of ozone loss occurring in any given Arctic winter is closely related to the amount of air exposed to temperatures low enough to support the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. Reactions occurring on the surface of these clouds convert chlorine from unreactive forms to other forms that quickly deplete ozone.

Based on the relation between ozone loss and polar stratospheric cloud existence, the researchers found every degree Kelvin (equal to one Celsius degree) cooling of the Arctic results in an additional ozone destruction of five percent. This sensitivity is a factor of three larger than previously predicted by state-of-the-art, coupled climate- chemistry computer models.

The scientists found the coldest stratospheric winters, during which most of the ozone loss occurs due to greater polar stratospheric cloud formation, have gradually become significantly cooler during the past few decades. "If stratospheric climatic conditions had not changed since the 1960s, Arctic ozone loss would be much less severe today, despite the increase in chlorofluorocarbons and bromine," Rex said.

"This study presents a new method of looking at a multi-year data set that enables us to relate year-to-year variations in the amount of ozone depletion to climate change," said co- author Dr. Ross Salawitch, a JPL research scientist. "Results of this research will lead to substantially improved computer model simulations of this phenomenon and will provide an excellent method for analyzing data from satellites such as NASA's soon-to-be-launched Aura atmospheric chemistry laboratory."

Researchers are trying to understand why the Arctic stratosphere cools. It may be due to a number of factors: rising levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide; a feedback between ozone depletion and stratospheric temperature; and natural variability. Higher amounts of greenhouse gases trap heat near Earth's surface, warming the surface and preventing the heat from reaching the stratosphere, thus cooling the upper atmosphere. However, climate models vary widely in their estimates of how much stratospheric cooling has occurred due to rising greenhouse gases over the past 40 years.

Stratospheric chlorine and bromine have begun to decline in response to the Montreal Protocol, a worldwide agreement signed in 1987 that limits the production of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone depleting pollutants. Scientists believe this indicates the cleansing process has begun, and eventually the ozone layer will recover, although chlorofluorocarbons can stay in the atmosphere for 50 to 100 years. The study suggests the healing process might be slowed, in the short term, by changes in stratospheric climate.

Tracking the predicted recovery of the ozone layer is a key science objective of NASA's Aura spacecraft. Aura is the latest in the Earth Observing System series and scheduled for launch in June. Aura will study the atmosphere's chemistry and dynamics, providing data to help scientists better understand Earth's ozone, air quality and climate change. Aura's chemistry measurements will follow up on records that began with NASA's Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite and will also continue the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer mission's goal of collecting comprehensive ozone data.

The paper was highlighted by the American Geophysical Union and published in Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 31, L04116.

For information about the research on the Internet, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/earth/air_ozone/air_ozone_index.cfm

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Arctic Ozone Loss More Sensitive To Climate Change Than Thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040426053953.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, April 26). Arctic Ozone Loss More Sensitive To Climate Change Than Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040426053953.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Arctic Ozone Loss More Sensitive To Climate Change Than Thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040426053953.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) Aerial video shows the path lava has carved across a portion of Hawaii's big island, threatening homes in the town of Pahoa. Officials say the flow was just over 230 yards from a roadway Thursday morning. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii was 225 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday night. The lava is slowing down but still approaching the village. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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