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Monday, September 10, 2012

The ozone hole affecting NZ is slowly healing...

Adrian McDonald
University of Canterbury Antarctic expert Adrian McDonald, left, carries out a test in Antarctica as part of his research on how winds and circulation in the atmosphere impact ozone depletion
The ozone hole affecting the Antarctic and New Zealand is slowly healing.
University of Canterbury Antarctic expert Adrian McDonald said the recovery was due to a reduction of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons substances, which had been largely banned worldwide.
McDonald said it was unclear when the ozone would return back to natural levels but it was expected to be after 2050.
Ironically however, ozone depletion may have protected Antarctica from the worst of greenhouse gas-related warming, he said.
"With the ozone recovery the future of Antarctic climate is less certain. Though the complex interactions in the atmosphere associated with climate change makes this region particularly hard to predict," McDonald said.
''The future recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole and increases in greenhouse gases are expected to have opposite effects on the winds and circulation in the southern hemisphere.
"The increasing ozone hole has until now acted to change the circulation of the southern hemisphere so that the strong winds linked to the jet streams have moved towards the pole.''
He said ozone recovery should act to move the winds back towards the equator.
The jet streams positions are one of the main things that help control the width of tropical and polar weather belts, McDonald said.
 Acknowledgements:    © Fairfax NZ News



At January 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most ozone (O3) is the result of lightning and industrial production for numerous beneficial applications—such as air and water cleansing and as a disinfectant in place of chlorine. Despite being generated by our white blood cells and by certain plants, it is short lived and not readily transported because it quickly decays to O2. Small commercial ozone generators are available for sale to consumers. Ozone is harmful to breathing animals, so concentrations in excess of sixty parts per billion should generally be avoided—depending on time of exposure. Nevertheless, when ozone rises to the stratosphere, it forms a layer twenty kilometers thick at between fifteen and thirty-five kilometers above ground that filters out 93-98 percent of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Laws requiring the substitution of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by non-ozone-destroying gases have had a beneficial effect in reducing the “hole” in the ozone layer. Since it only has a duration of twenty-two days in the atmosphere, ozone must be constantly replaced—mostly by the sun’s ultraviolet rays reacting with oxygen but also, besides lightning, by our high-voltage electrical grids and motors using carbon brushes. This cycle has its limits so we must avoid destroying the ozone layer that circulates above the earth. There should be more research to learn what other factors impact the supply, destruction, and escape of ozone, without which there can be no life. Without the ozone layer, our farm products would burn up “on the vine,” as would we.

When a space shuttle or Russian rocket sends supplies and scientists to the space station, each flight destroys ten thousand tons of ozone of the mere three billion tons protecting us. Increased space exploration and potentially huge numbers of flights for Earth-orbital sightseeing and moon tourism bode ill for the maintenance of this fragile layer. Better means of escaping from Earth’s atmosphere will necessitate the development of astounding solutions. We can visualize satellite terminals in stationary orbit above the atmospheric ozone layer from which nuclear-powered spaceships depart to the moon—and to which they might return. Or, we might have to fill tanks with ozone commercially produced on Earth and attach them to a satellite that would slowly release the gas in the orbit of the ozone layer.

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