"Mountain Waves" Above Antarctica Can Help Destroy Ozone Layer

by VR Sreeraman on  January 6, 2009 at 11:55 AM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
In a new research, it has been observed that "mountain waves" in the atmosphere above Antarctica create rare clouds that are helping destroy the ozone layer.

Over the last two decades, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released by human activity have opened a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica.

Key chemical reactions that lead to ozone depletion happen on the surface of rare polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), which form high up in the atmosphere.

Here, sunlight breaks down the CFCs into products that react to produce chlorine, which in turn decomposes ozone.

"The question was: how are these clouds generated?" said Lars Hoffmann of the Julich Research Centre in Germany.

According to a report in New Scientist, Steve Eckermann of the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, along with Hoffmann and colleagues, used satellite infrared data to study atmospheric temperatures above the Antarctic Peninsula.

They found pockets of high and low temperature air in the stratosphere, and these only occurred above mountains.

The colder pockets fell below -78 degrees Celsius, which is cold enough for PSCs to form.

This implicates so-called mountain waves, which are created when an airstream flows over high relief.

The waves churn up the air high in the atmosphere and appear to create the temperature variations.

Source: ANI

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