Ozone-destroying gas suddenly decreases for no reason

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The uncertainty of science: Scientists are baffled by the sudden drop in one kind of atmospheric hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) gas that is thought to help create the hole in the ozone layer above the south pole.

New measurements show that after a rapid increase of the compound in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere from 0.13 parts per trillion (ppt) in 2000 to 0.50 ppt in 2013, the concentration suddenly dropped to about 0.44 ppt by early 2015. This drop in concentration is equivalent to a 50 percent decline in global emissions percent of the gas: from 3,000 metric tons (3,300 US tons) in 2011 to about 1,500 metric tons (1,700 tons) in 2014, according to the new study.

Now for the kicker: They not only don’t know why this HCFC suddenly declined, they also don’t know where it is coming from. This gas is not one of the gases that were restricted decades ago to save the ozone hole. Until last year, scientists hadn’t even known it existed. And though the article claims it is human-caused, they haven’t yet identified how humans cause it. They hope its sudden decline in the atmosphere will help them pin down its source.


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  • Phill O

    As I have stated before, the hole ozone thing was a scam! The technology was developed to detect the ozone concentrations present. There was no baseline data. They jumped to a conclusion. The poles must have a lower ozone concentration due to how it is made in the upper-atmosphere; it requires sunlight. Guess where there is 24 hour darkness for a spell.

    There are several factors at play; 1 research funding depends upon scare tactics. 2 Publish or perish and the peer review process.

    The universities have lost credibility due to yelling “wolf” too often.

    Consider fact vs conclusion. It is a fact that several animals have sharp teeth while others has flattish teeth. Conclusion: Sharp teeth are for meat eaters while flat teeth are for herbivores, partly based on observing animals alive today and their natural diets.

    Fact: there is less ozone at the poles. Conclusion; well there are a few possibilities. It may be the wrong conclusion to to employ or go for one. Same argument for climate change; we know the planet has warmed over the last one hundred or so years. conclusions and decisions made on wrong conclusions can be very costly.

    There are many areas of research conducted at universities and institutes of technology where funding is dependent upon results that are easily measured. Engineering is a prime example. Also most physics and chemistry. However, even these disciplines have been subject to scams. No paper should be considered accurate unless the work has been duplicated by another researcher.

  • Nick P


    “the hole ozone thing was a scam!”

    Is that as in “the ozone hole thing is a scan” or “the whole ozone hole thing is a scam”?

    I guess either way you see it as a scam…

  • Edward

    Phil’s point is that there is no baseline to consider natural variations in the Antarctic ozone vs. any human-activity caused variations in the Antarctic ozone. What is natural and what is man caused is unknown.

    The reason that the Antarctic has a “hole” (actually it is only a temporary reduction in the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere) and the Arctic does not is the colder temperatures in the Antarctic. During the sunless winter, precursor gasses, such as chlorine nitrate, build up, as there is no UV light to break them down, but the slightly warmer temperatures of the Arctic are not conducive to these gasses, and they either do not form or break down.

    Once the sun begins to shine on the Arctic’s upper atmosphere (a few weeks ago), the precursor gasses, in conjunction with the UV light, attack the ozone until they are depleted. Once the precursor gasses have been depleted (taking only a few weeks), the ozone, which forms and breaks down in the presence of UV light, comes back into balance again, and the “hole” closes.

    It is the requirement for these low temperatures during sunless periods why we do not see ozone holes in the populated regions of the Earth. Very little life and only Antarctic scientists are in any way affected, and it is likely that nature has long ago adapted to the temporary annual increase in UVB.

    The term “hole” is very misleading, as it suggests a complete lack of ozone, when the reality is that the reduction is slight. Most people believe that the “ozone hole” is a permanent phenomenon, lasting year-round, and that it extends planet-wide.

    Thus, the limited and temporary ozone reduction has been used to scare many people into believing that it is a problem that must be solved at the cost of less efficient refrigerators and air conditioners (increased energy use and more expensive equipment). Thus it is entirely possible that we have been scammed into significantly more cost for very little benefit (actually, no benefit).

    Man is not the only source of chlorinated gasses, as they spew from volcanoes and other natural sources. We should expect a certain amount of natural decline in Antarctic ozone during the Antarctic spring, but we have no indication as to what that natural amount is; it could be exactly what we see, and man may have no effect at all.

    The chemistry is well understood, but the sources are not as well understood.

  • Max

    Actually we have a very good idea of what the sources are. The size of the ozone hole is based upon how much Solar gas is in the upper atmosphere. The more active the sun, the more methane and ammonia. The gases will freeze and not react with the oxygen and ozone until the first rays of sunlight begin the oxidizing process. stratospheric clouds will burn off when the sun returns in September through October. This is also when Antarctica receives most of its annual foot of new ice over the continent. I call this cause and effect, it’s all reproducible every year. Scientists call this a coincidence.
    They’ve known about the cycles since the famous U2 flight over Antarctica 40 years ago. They took lovelocks device to sample the ozone at 60,000 feet. But the pilot had to fly by instruments because they could not see the stars even though they were twice as high as any clouds that would exist. The temperature was colder than they’ve ever experienced and they were extremely worried about the metal of the planes wings shattering like ice.
    I believe there was a special space shuttle flight to measure the ozone hole over Mount Fuji in 1989? The volcano was spewing a lot of chlorine from the ocean into the stratosphere and was thought to be a slamdunk for science. Years later NASA announced the results and said they were inconclusive. “the ozone hole is there, but our instruments were too weak to measure it” The truth is the dust from the volcano was blocking the reflection of the wavelength of light that measures Ozone. Wasted taxpayer money.
    I always thought it odd that they would fine anyone who releases chlorofluorocarbons $10,000. When that man-made gas was much heavier than air and would sink into the soil. Free chlorine on the other hand is in our water, pools, wash machines and is released without any thought for the ozone layer. And you know why this is… It’s all a political scam made up because the ends justify the means.
    Next time you talk to someone about the ozone hole, tell them it’s just like the hole you get when you put a bucket into a lake and pull it out!

  • Phill O

    Wikipedia is not a reliable resource!

  • Edward

    Ever so true, and I usually preface links with witicisms such as “from the ever-so-reliable Wikipedia:”. However, considering a likely pro-alarmist slant on their part, the linked article maintains reasonable accuracy while briefly describing the topic.

    For Nick: my “expertise” on this topic stems from working in the sister department of the one that made the CLAES instrument on the UARS satellite. These two departments held a weekly seminar on the various projects they were working on (to update interested employees), and the topic of the chemistry of the upper atmosphere at the poles was at least one talk. I have maintained an interest ever since.

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