Tag: ozone depletion

Huge volcanic eruptions can lead to fast climate change

Will the world get it together on climate change?
Researchers are getting a better handle on what might have caused the Permian extinction. Photo courtesy NASA.

Acid rain, ozone depletion contributed to ancient mass extinction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While the steady increase in greenhouse gas concentrations may be a slow form of ecocide, massive volcanic eruptions may have the ability to alter the atmosphere so profoundly that it leads to relatively sudden and widespread mass extinctions.

That’s likely what happened 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when there was a mass extinction so severe that it remains the most traumatic known species die-off in Earth’s history. Previous research has suggested the event was triggered by contemporaneous volcanic eruptions in Siberia, and a recent followup study looked at the effects those eruptions had on Earth’s atmosphere. Continue reading “Huge volcanic eruptions can lead to fast climate change”


Study tracks impacts to southern hemisphere jet stream

What’s driving changes in jet stream circulation?

Ozone depletion seen as bigger factor than greenhouse gas forcing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After running a complex set of climate models, Penn State researchers concluded that ozone depletion has been the biggest driver in shifting the southern hemisphere jet stream toward the South Pole.

By including short-term wind pattern changes in their calculations, and comparing changes in four different types of wind patterns, the scientist said they were able to determine that the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere plays a lesser role in the observed changes in the southern hemisphere.

“Previous research suggests that this southward shift in the jet stream has contributed to changes in ocean circulation patterns and precipitation patterns in the Southern Hemisphere, both of which can have important impacts on people’s livelihoods,” said Penn State meteorology professer Sukyoung Lee. Continue reading “Study tracks impacts to southern hemisphere jet stream”

Environment: Antarctic ozone hole closes early this year

Warmer stratosphere, active polar vortex help speed seasonal recovery

A graphic from the WMO shows the progression of the Antarctic ozone hole.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Relatively warm stratospheric temperatures helped limit the size of this year’s Antarctic ozone hole, which disappeared completely by Nov. 10, earlier than in recent years.

Using data gathered from ground stations and weather balloons, the World Meteorological Organization said the warmer temps at an elevation of about 20 kilometers limited the formation of polar stratospheric clouds which, through a chemical chain reaction between water, nitric acid and halogenated reservoir gases cause ozone loss. In this respect, the 2012 ozone hole was similar to the one in 2010, when a sudden stratospheric warming in July and August gave rise to a smaller amount of polar stratospheric clouds than usual. Continue reading “Environment: Antarctic ozone hole closes early this year”

Environment: Antarctic ozone hole getting smaller

This year’s ozone hole over Antarctica was the second-smallest in 20 years, according to NASA.

Warmer temps in the lower stratosphere helped shrink the hole this year

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Antarctic ozone hole shrank to its second-smallest size in the past 20 years, down to “only” 8.2 million square miles, just barely big enough to cover all of North America.

NASA researchers said natural variations in weather patterns are the biggest factor in determining the size of the hole, which allows harmful ulraviolet radiation to reach the surface of the Earth. This year, those patterns generated warmer-than-average stratospheric temperatures in the region.

The ozone hole reached its maximum size Sept. 22. The average size of the 2012 ozone hole was 6.9 million square miles.  The largest ozone hole on record was in Sept. 6, 2000, when it reached 11.5 million square miles. Continue reading “Environment: Antarctic ozone hole getting smaller”

Global warming linked with ozone depletion

New Harvard study shows links between warming, changes in atmospheric chemistry and skin cancer

A NASA photo from the International Space Station shows a large cumulonimbus cloud.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with serious global impacts like rising sea levels and increases in weather extremes, global warming may lead to a significantly higher risk for skin cancer, according to a new study published this week in the Journal Science.

Harvard researchers say they’ve discovered a connection between climate change and depletion of the ozone layer over the U.S. that could allow more damaging ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to increased incidence of skin cancer.

The increase in UV radiation could also affect other species, including vitally important crops like wheat, that could also be susceptible to genetic damage. Continue reading “Global warming linked with ozone depletion”

Global warming: Sea ice decline causing ozone depletion

Arctic ozone vanished at an unprecedented rate in the winter of 2010-2011.

New research suggests that sea ice loss may also be resulting in more mercury deposition in the Arctic

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Loss of sea ice in polar regions isn’t just affecting the surface of the Earth, but is also having an impact on the atmosphere.

An international NASA-led team, coordinated by the National Ice Center,  is reporting that changes in sea ice are driving chemical reactions that result in ozone depletion and the toxic element mercury falling out of the Arctic atmosphere onto the ocean and icy surface. Continue reading “Global warming: Sea ice decline causing ozone depletion”

Canada slashes environmental programs

Cuts threaten trans-border researcher on climate, pollution

Research on climate change impacts to the tundra is suffering after Canadian budget cuts.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —American scientists say they’re concerned that Canadian budget cuts will hamper important international research efforts on climate change, pollution and other regional issues that cut across political boundaries.

The cuts have affected the the scientific workforce of Environment Canada, the government agency responsible for meteorological services and environmental research.

Since the cuts were implemented last summer, ozone soundings have ceased at several Canadian stations. Lidar network measurements of particle pollution layers from five Canadian stations no longer occur, and the website that was distributing this data has disappeared, according to a report in the Feb. 14 issue of the American Geophysical Union’s Eos newspaper.

“Canada is a bellwether for environmental change, not only for Arctic ozone depletion but for pollutants that stream to North America from other continents, ” said Anne Thompson, professor of meteorology, Penn State. “It is unthinkable that data collection is beginning to shut down in this vast country, in some cases at stations that started decades ago.” Continue reading “Canada slashes environmental programs”