The Return of the Ozone Layer

January 9, 2012 · 0 comments

It’s always nice to hear good news: The ozone layer is recovering, and by around 2032 the amount of ozone in the atmosphere should return to 1980 levels, according to the 2010 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion. At last fall’s symposium on Stratospheric Ozone and Climate Change, co-sponsored by AMS, Paul Newman gave a talk about this progress–and what the world would have looked like had the landmark Montreal Protocol not been implemented in 1987.  Here’s his message, in a nutshell, courtesy of a NASA video:

(You can see Newman’s in-depth presentation on the Assessment from the Bjerknes Lecture at the AGU Fall Meeting as well).

Comprehensive data are available in the links, but a couple of highlights from Newman’s talk are that 1) amounts of chlorine and bromine in the lower atmosphere are in decline, and 2) if the Montreal Protocol had not been implemented in 1987, two-thirds of the ozone layer would be have disappeared by 2065, while the UV index would have tripled. Not only would this have led to a marked increase in occurrences of skin cancer and other health problems, but it also would have caused crop yields across the world to decline by up to 30%, potentially leading to food shortages.

The technology used in ozone research will be the topic of a number of presentations at the upcoming AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans. One device of particular interest is the Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS), a state-of-the-art instrument onboard the recently launched NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite.

Angela Li of NASA and colleagues will discuss the collection and evolution of OMPS data in a presentation titled “End-to-End Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS) Mission Data Modeling and Simulation” (Tuesday, 1:45 p.m., Room 343/344).

Glen Jaross of Science Systems and Applications, Inc. will lead an examination of the calibration of instruments like OMPS in the discussion, “Evolution of Calibration Requirements and Techniques for Total Ozone Mappers” (Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., Room 257).

Lawrence Flynn of NOAA/NESDIS will lead a talk (Monday, 5:00 p.m., Room 245) on recent advances in ozone sensors, with a focus on those that make solar Backscatter measurements in the Ultraviolet–a list that includes not only OMPS but also the EuMetSat Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME-2), the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA) Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Sounders (SBUS) and Total Ozone Units (TOU), and the NOAA Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instruments (SBUV/2).

Early results from OMPS and other instruments on NPP will be the subject of a panel discussion (Monday, 12:15 p.m., Room 343/344) of NPP science team members and designers.