Saturday, February 13, 2016
Ozone layer holier than ever!
So the Arctic has developed an ozone hole too. And it's a big one. It was the Antarctic hole that triggered the Greenie campaign against refrigerant gases but the logic behind the ban meant that the Arctic should have been protected too. It wasn't. So now that the ban has been in force for many years, we have got a holier ozone layer than ever. The science behind the ozone nonsense has long ago been shown to be mistaken and reality too has now caught up. Greenies hailed the antiozone Montreal protocol as their biggest achievement. But it was as poorly founded as all the rest of the Greenie scares
A huge hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic is set to grow even larger this spring as a blast of cold weather combines with returning sunshine and lingering air pollutants.
The hole over the Canadian Arctic is already thought to be around 770,000 square miles (two million square kilometres) or around the size of Greenland.
But environmental scientists are predicting the gap in the Earth's protective atmospheric layer could grow even larger this spring when the sunshine returns to the region after the long, dark winter.
According to Science magazine, a record low temperature in the Earth's upper atmosphere could release chemicals which destroy the layer.
Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen molecules which can be hazardous to our health on the ground, but in the upper atmosphere it protects us by soaking up ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Without it, the planet's surface would be exposed to dangerous levels of UV-B rays which can shred DNA, leading to mutations that cause cancers.
Towards the end of the 20th Century, the ozone was found to have been depleted by the now banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which react with the ozone as they break down.
The extent of the hole above Canada was revealed in 2011. In extended cold periods, like the Arctic winter, the hole can become enlarged.
Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany explained that by next week as much as a quarter of the Arctic's ozone will be destroyed.
Ozone is constantly replenished in the atmosphere but if the rate of destruction outstrips this then the hole can enlarge.
Scientists warn that if this year's polar vortex – the wintry weather pattern which traps circulating cold air in the upper atmosphere – continues longer than usual into the spring, the returning sunlight could set off a chemical chain reaction widening the hole even further.
Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Potsdam, Germany explained that by next week as much as a quarter of the Arctic's ozone could be destroyed.
'Should the vortex persist until well into March, the formation of a deep ozone minimum over the Arctic has to be expected,' said Dr Rex.
He added: 'However, if the vortex breaks up before then, the air masses will sufficiently mix with fresh air from lower latitudes and the Arctic will narrowly avoid a new record of ozone depletion.'
The team at the AWI say that the while they are unable to accurately predict the fate of the vortex, and if it will break up before spring returns, the researchers say that there is a chance that a hole in the layer – or 'ozone minimum' – could even drift over central Europe.
The scientists are continuing to monitor the atmosphere closely and releasing weather balloons from a number of stations dotted throughout the Arctic.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).