Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming

Date:
June 26, 2008
Source:
The National Centre for Atmospheric Science
Summary:
Large amounts of ozone are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The significance is that ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas -- methane. It should lead to improved climate predictions.

Photo of the NERC 228 Dornier research aircraft making measurements of ozone, CO, NOx, halocarbons and particles at low level (~100m) over the Atlantic Ocean close to the Cape Verde Observatory.
Credit: Dr James Lee, National Centre for Atmospheric Science (UK)

Large amounts of ozone -- around 50% more than predicted by the world's state-of-the-art climate models -- are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds. It has particular significance because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane.

The findings come after analysing the first year of measurements from the new Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory, recently set up by British, German and Cape Verdean scientists on the island of São Vicente in the tropical Atlantic. Alerted by these Observatory data, the scientists flew a research aircraft up into the atmosphere to make ozone measurements at different heights and more widely across the tropical Atlantic. The results mirrored those made at the Observatory, indicating major ozone loss in this remote area.

So, what's causing this loss? Instruments developed at the University of Leeds, and stationed at the Observatory, detected the presence of the chemicals bromine and iodine oxide over the ocean for this region. These chemicals, produced by sea spray and emissions from phytoplankton (microscopic plants in the ocean), attack the ozone, breaking it down. As the ozone is destroyed, a chemical is produced that attacks and destroys the greenhouse gas methane. Up until now it has been impossible to monitor the atmosphere of this remote region over time because of its physical inaccessibility. Including this new chemistry in climate models will provide far more accurate estimates of ozone and methane in the atmosphere and improve future climate predictions.

Professor Alastair Lewis, Director of Atmospheric Composition at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and a lead scientist in this study, said: "At the moment this is a good news story -- more ozone and methane being destroyed than we previously thought - but the tropical Atlantic cannot be taken for granted as a permanent 'sink' for ozone. The composition of the atmosphere is in fine balance here- it will only take a small increase in nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel combustion, carried here from Europe, West Africa or North America on the trade winds, to tip the balance from a sink to a source of ozone"

Professor John Plane, University of Leeds said: "This study provides a sharp reminder that to understand how the atmosphere really works, measurement and experiment are irreplaceable. The production of iodine and bromine mid-ocean implies that destruction of ozone over the oceans could be global".

Dr Lucy Carpenter, University of York and UK co-ordinator of the Observatory added: "This observatory is a terrific facility that will enable us to keep an eye on the chemical balance of the atmosphere and feed this information into global climate models to greatly improve predictions for this region in the future".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Katie A. Read, Anoop S. Mahajan, Lucy J. Carpenter, Mathew J. Evans, Bruno V. E. Faria, Dwayne E. Heard, James R. Hopkins, James D. Lee, Sarah J. Moller, Alastair C. Lewis, Luis Mendes, James B. McQuaid, Hilke Oetjen, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, Michael J. Pilling, John M.C. Plane. Extensive halogen-mediated ozone destruction over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Nature, 453, 1232-1235 (26 June 2008) DOI: 10.1038/nature07035

Cite This Page:

The National Centre for Atmospheric Science. "Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625140656.htm>.
The National Centre for Atmospheric Science. (2008, June 26). Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625140656.htm
The National Centre for Atmospheric Science. "Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080625140656.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 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:
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