Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Scientists Discover New Atmospheric Hole Reinforcing Ozone Depletion

Climate

Researchers have discovered a large opening in the Earth's atmosphere that is enabling pollutants to rise into the stratosphere and destroy the ozone layer.

Location and extent of low ozone concentrations and thus of the OH hole over the West Pacific. Graphic courtesy of Alfred Wegener Institute

The hole, which is in a part of the lower atmosphere called the "OH shield," is several thousand kilometers long and is centered over the tropical west Pacific Ocean. It's relatively close to Southeast Asia—a region with a booming population and rapidly increasing air pollution.

In tropical thunderstorms over the West Pacific air masses and the chemical substances they contain are quickly hurled upward to the edge of the stratosphere. If there are sufficient OH molecules in the atmosphere, the air is extensively cleaned by chemical transformation processes. Where OH concentrations are low, such as those now found in large sections of the tropical West Pacific, the cleaning capacity of the atmosphere is reduced. Photo: Markus Rex, Alfred Wegener Institute

The hole is a major concern because the OH shield usually scrubs air of chemical compounds emitted near the ground before they can reach the stratosphere, where those compounds can persist for long periods of time, reacting with and destroying ozone, say researchers at Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute who identified the hole.

Nearly all chemical substances produced by people, animals, plants, algae or microorganisms on the ground or in the oceans react quickly with OH and break down in this process. During this chemical self-cleaning process substances that are not easily water-soluble are transformed into water-soluble products and then washed out by precipitation. Through this mechanism OH molecules remove most substances from the atmosphere. The OH molecule is therefore also called the detergent of the atmosphere. Only extremely long-lived chemical compounds, such as methane or CFCs, also known as "ozone killers", can rise through the OH shield into the stratosphere. Graphics: Markus Rex, Alfred Wegener Institute

The newly discovered phenomenon acts as a sort of elevator, researchers say, drawing chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur dioxide and other contaminants straight up to the stratosphere and bypassing the OH shield scrub.

--------

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE 

Clean Energy Breakthrough Uses Sun to Create Solar Materials

UC Davis and Honda Unveil Smart Home for a Zero-Carbon Future

Coral Skeletons Reveal Centuries of Rising Sea Levels

--------

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting with energy sector CEOs in the Cabinet Room of the White House April 3 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

An Important Note

No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene ⁠— can protect you from developing COVID-19.

The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less