Tag Archives: ozone hole

Arctic ozone hole closes

The uncertainty of science: The largest ozone hole ever detected over the north pole has now closed.

After looming above the Arctic for nearly a month, the single largest ozone hole ever detected over the North Pole has finally closed, researchers from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) reported. “The unprecedented 2020 Northern Hemisphere ozone hole has come to an end,” CAMS researchers tweeted on April 23.

The hole in the ozone layer — a portion of Earth’s atmosphere that shields the planet from ultraviolet radiation — first opened over the Arctic in late March when unusual wind conditions trapped frigid air over the North Pole for several weeks in a row. Those winds, known as a polar vortex, created a circular cage of cold air that led to the formation of high-altitude clouds in the region. The clouds mixed with man-made pollutants like chlorine and bromine, eating away at the surrounding ozone gas until a massive hole roughly three times the size of Greenland opened in the atmosphere, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA). [emphasis mine]

Note that the north pole hole occurred because of unusually frigid and cold conditions, something I thought we were never going to see again because of global warming.

The last paragraph of the article at the link reveals a lot of ignorance by its writer, Brandon Specktor, where he discusses the south pole ozone hole. First, he says it “has existed for roughly four decades.” Wrong. The south pole ozone hole was first detected in the 1950s, and has likely existed every winter for eons.

Next, he wonders if it is “starting to close.” Wrong. That ozone hole opens every winter and closes every summer, like clockwork. When winter arrives and the south pole is in darkness, oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized by sunlight and thus there is a drop in the production of ozone, producing the hole. When sunlight begins hitting the upper atmosphere in the spring it starts ionizing oxygen molecules again to produce ozone, and the hole goes away.

Then he notes that scientists hope the hole will “heal” and forever disappear by 2050. Wrong. The data says instead that the south pole ozone hole is a natural phenomenon that occurs every winter. It is not a wound against the earth.

Finally, he claims that the south pole ozone hole exists almost entirely because of us evil humans, first because of global warming and second because until 1987 we put ozone-depleting pollutants into the atmosphere. Wrong. As I said, the ozone hole is almost entirely a natural phenomenon, caused each winter because sunlight is no longer hitting the upper atmosphere above Antarctica and thus oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized into ozone. Those pollutants might have made it slightly larger in the late 20th century, but then, that theory has a problem, as most of those pollutants were released in the northern hemisphere, where they would have little or no interaction with the atmosphere of the southern hemisphere. (The atmospheres of the two hemispheres are largely independent.) Yet it was only in the south that we have generally seen an ozone hole

I predict, very confidently, that come 2050 climate scientists will discover, “unexpectedly”, that the south pole ozone hole has not “closed” or “healed”, but continues to reappear, each winter. And they will have by then discovered that depending on circumstances, a north pole ozone hole also appears during some colder winters, which despite their repeatedly failed predictions of global warming will likely continue to happen.

Large ozone hole forms over northern hemisphere for first time

The uncertainty of science: For the first time since the 1980s, when scientists were first able to track the ozone layer and discovered the appearance of a winter ozone zone hole above Antarctica, scientists have detected the formation of a large winter ozone hole over the northern hemisphere.

The Arctic, which has more variable temperatures, doesn’t usually see the same ozone-depleting conditions, the researchers said. But this year, powerful winds trapped cold air in a “polar vortex” above the Arctic. That led to colder temperatures and more high-altitude clouds than normal. Hence, North Pole ozone-depletion began.

Fortunately, with the sun slowly getting higher over the Arctic, atmospheric temperatures are already beginning to increase, which means the conditions causing the ozone hole should soon change, the researchers said. However, if the hole continues to expand south, Arctic residents — like those living in southern Greenland — may need to apply sunscreen to prevent UV damage.

The article, as is usual for this topic, is filled with some ignorant assumptions about the south pole ozone hole that mirror similar ignorant assumptions related to global warming.

First, it assumes that one of the prime causes of the south pole ozone hole was the use of certain chemicals in spray cans, banned in 1987. This theory however was never proven, and had some very serious holes of its own. For example, the atmospheres of the northern and southern atmospheres are largely independent of each other. Almost all spray can use was in the northern hemisphere. Yet there no ozone hole occurred. No one has ever explained how northern hemisphere pollution only caused an ozone hole in the southern hemisphere.

Second, we have no data on the long term history of that south pole ozone hole prior to the 1980s. To assume human activity had caused it to suddenly appear in the 1980s was so large an assumption as to be ridiculous. More likely it was a normal winter event, on-going for eons, caused because the lack or reduction of sunlight hitting that layer prevented the ionization of oxygen molecules that turns them into ozone. Thus, no sunlight, no ozone, and you get a hole.

Third, though that south pole ozone hole has shown a 1% to 3% shrinkage, per decade, since the 1987 ban, that does not fit with what had been predicted in the 1980s when environmentalists pushed for the ban. Then, the hole was supposedly caused entirely by the spray cans, and once banned the hole would quickly dissipate. This very slow shrinkage seems instead nothing more than a long term variation of a normal yearly event.

Fourth, if banning the spray can chemicals would eliminate the ozone hole, why do we suddenly see a new hole in the northern hemisphere, decades after the chemicals were banned?

All in all, the data suggests that the ban was largely irrelevant to the comings and goings of the ozone layer. It might have been a good thing, but no one really knows.

But don’t worry. I guarantee some climate modeler will come along soon and tell us that this new hole was obviously caused by some new evil human activity, and demand that we ban it. It seems that is what our modern “science” modelers do.

Ozone-destroying gas suddenly decreases for no reason

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.

Scientists baffled by unknown source of CFCs

The uncertainty of science: Scientists have found that, despite their complete ban since 2007, one type of ozone-depleting CFCs are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. “We are not supposed to be seeing this at all,” said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources.”

That there seems to be an unknown source of CFCs suggests strongly that the entire theory of CFCs destroying the ozone layer is faulty. If CFCs were being produced naturally in the past then the ozone layer should not exist based on this theory. That it does exist says the CFCs are not harmful to it and were banned unnecessarily.

A new study suggests a link between CFCs, the ozone hole, and climate change.

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests a link between CFCs, the ozone hole, and climate change.

“Most conventional theories expect that global temperatures will continue to increase as CO2 levels continue to rise, as they have done since 1850. What’s striking is that since 2002, global temperatures have actually declined – matching a decline in CFCs in the atmosphere,” Professor Lu said. “My calculations of CFC greenhouse effect show that there was global warming by about 0.6 °C from 1950 to 2002, but the earth has actually cooled since 2002. The cooling trend is set to continue for the next 50-70 years as the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere continues to decline.”

The data is interesting, though hardly as conclusive Lu claims. It does illustrate again how incredibly complex climate science is, and how many factors influence it that we can’t yet completely quantify.

The new Arctic ozone hole

An interesting and very informative paper was published by the American Geophysical Union this past Saturday, entitled “Arctic winter 2010/2011 at the brink of an ozone hole.” The first paragraph of the introduction essentially summed up the paper’s key points:

Large losses of Arctic stratospheric ozone have been observed during winter 2010/2011, exceeding observed losses during cold winters over the past decades, characterized as the first Arctic Ozone Hole. Although in general Arctic ozone is expected to recover because of the reductions in ozone depleting substances as a result of the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, the observation that apparently the cold Arctic winters in the stratosphere have been getting colder over the past decades raises some concern that Arctic ozone depletion may worsen over the next decades if the cooling trend continues while concentrations of ozone depleting substances remain sufficiently high. [emphasis mine]

Two important take-aways:
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Two climate papers of interest

When I appear on radio and am talking about climate change, I often get the same questions over and over.

  • Is the climate warming?
  • If so, is human behavior an important factor for causing that warming?
  • How much does the sun influence climate change?
  • Is the ozone hole linked to climate change?

The truth is that, right now, no one can really answer any of these questions with any certainty. While a large majority of climate scientists might be convinced the Earth is warming and that human activity is causing this warming, the public has great doubts about these claims, partly because of the untrustworthy behavior of many of these climate scientists and partly because the science itself is often confusing.

We simply don’t yet have enough data. Worse, much of the data we do have is tainted, unreliable because of the misconduct and political activism of the very climate scientists who are trying to prove the case for man-made global warming.

Two new papers, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, add some interesting but small data points to this whole subject.
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Arctic ozone loss at record level

The ozone levels over the Arctic this past year were the lowest on record, caused by unusually cold temperatures.

No records for low temperature were set this year, but the air remained at its coldest for an unusually long period of time, and covered an unusually large area. In addition, the polar vortex was stronger than usual. Here, winds circulate around the edge of the Arctic region, somewhat isolating it from the main world weather systems.

“Why [all this] occurred will take years of detailed study,” said Dr. [Michelle] Santee [from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. “It was continuously cold from December through April, and that has never happened before in the Arctic in the instrumental record.”