Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flights over Arctic provide data for investigating ozone hole depletion

Date:
April 6, 2010
Source:
Universitaet Mainz
Summary:
An international team of researchers is investigating ozone depletion in the polar stratosphere using data gathered during flights over the Arctic region at elevations of up to 20 kilometers.

Professor Borrmann checks the instruments.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universitaet Mainz

An international team of researchers is investigating ozone depletion in the polar stratosphere using data gathered during flights over the Arctic region at elevations of up to 20 kilometers.

The team of atmosphere researchers -- among them Stephan Borrmann, Professor at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz -- hopes to discover how long the processes that result in the formation of the hibernal holes in the ozone layer at the polar caps actually take. It is also expected that the data collected during the flights undertaken with the high-altitude aircraft "M55 Geophysica" will provide insight into what effect climate change is having on the physical and chemical processes that influence the ozone layer. This would make it possible to extrapolate the future development of the ozone layer under the conditions obtained during on-going changes.

The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released by humans on the surface of the earth are gradually transported into the stratosphere. Here the CFCs are exposed to powerful ultraviolet radiation which decomposes the chlorofluorocarbons to finally release chlorine. This chlorine usually reacts with other chemicals and is bound in substances such as hydrogen chloride vapor and chlorine nitrate, which are not detrimental to ozone. However, in the stratospheric clouds located over the poles, the clorine from CFCs can form aggressive ozone-destroying chlorine monoxide radicals (CIO).

Analysis of these clouds is thus essential to the research being conducted by the Mainz team under Stephan Borrmann. And it is these extraordinary but natural clouds that are formed only in the stratosphere over the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the cold of the polar winters that are implicated in the formation of the holes in the ozone layer.

"As the warming of the atmosphere attributable to climate change also has a direct effect on the physical and chemical processes associated with the ozone layer, we urgently need to conduct new research into this aspect," explains Professor Borrmann.

The scientists are able to directly analyze the properties of the particles making up these polar stratospheric clouds -- frozen droplets of ice and nitric acid with an approximate diameter of 3-20 micrometers -- using instruments attached to the aircraft. In order to be able to determine the rate and extent of ozone depletion, the scientists need to find out exactly what size these droplets are and how many of them are present in these polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). The Mainz team is using additional instruments to evaluate the characteristics of ultrafine airborne aerosol particles that are also present in the stratosphere and play a role in the relevant processes.

Remarkably, the presence of meteoric dust was even detected in the stratosphere during the data-gathering flights conducted between mid-January and mid-March 2010. It has also proved possible to collect significant amounts of data directly from PSCs. "We were amazed to discover that there were surprisingly large particles present in polar stratospheric clouds. These has a diameter of up to 30 micrometers, and they were rapidly precipitated thanks to their weight. This causes the substances contained in them to be irreversibly removed from the stratosphere, thus promoting the process of ozone depletion," Borrmann explains.

Originally a Russian spy plane, M55 Geophysica is one of only three aircraft worldwide that are able to reach the stratosphere -- and it can do this while carrying a payload of nearly one ton of metering instruments and other equipment. Such flights are the only way in which the atmospheric researchers can collect the information they still need to understand the correlations between ozone depletion and climate change.

Researchers from nine countries are taking part in the measuring flights, which start from Kiruna, located in the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. The campaign is part of the EU project "RECONCILE" (reconciliation of essential parameters for an enhanced predictability of arctic stratospheric ozone loss and its climate interactions) that is being coordinated by scientists of the Jόlich Research Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitaet Mainz. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Universitaet Mainz. "Flights over Arctic provide data for investigating ozone hole depletion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331081137.htm>.
Universitaet Mainz. (2010, April 6). Flights over Arctic provide data for investigating ozone hole depletion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331081137.htm
Universitaet Mainz. "Flights over Arctic provide data for investigating ozone hole depletion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331081137.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
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