By Kevin Roeten:
New NASA research on ozone cycles suggests ozone in the lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere probably won’t be affected by strengthening of the circulating winds transporting ozone between two of Earth’s atmospheric layers. Only relatively small amounts of ozone can come close to the earth’s surface. But no climate warming should result because ozone is not a greenhouse gas. The research, which studies variances of ozone, helps us to predict changes in ozone in the troposphere.
Jessica Neu, an atmospheric scientist at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used NASA satellite observations to show periodic strengthening and weakening of circulating winds in the stratosphere-immediately above the troposphere, make all the yearly changes in tropospheric ozone in Earth’s mid-latitudes. Those are the same latitudes where North America, most of Europe and Central Asia are located. Researchers calculated a 40 percent change in stratospheric wind increases tropospheric ozone by two percent over Earth’s northern mid-latitudes at an altitude of about 16,000 feet.
But mysteriously, some ‘anomaly’ seems to have interrupted the stratospheric wind pattern. For the first time, scientists have observed a change from the typical alternating pattern of easterly and westerly winds in the equatorial stratosphere. No known cause is making this change.
While a two percent change in ozone is small, it has large seasonal changes but only varies by four percent yearly at these altitudes. Global climate models project the stratospheric circulating winds of particular interest to Neu are expected to strengthen 30 percent over the next century, but the impacts on tropospheric ozone have been highly uncertain.
The researchers studied changes in the well-established global wind circulation of the stratosphere. Winds in the tropics rise up, move toward Earth’s poles, and then descend over middle and high latitudes. In these regions, the descending air carries ozone-rich air from the stratosphere to the troposphere.
Ever Heard Of Quasi-Biennial Oscillation?
To quantify how ozone responds to changes in wind circulation, Neu investigated two phenomena causing shorter-term circulation changes: the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. Researchers used the Microwave Limb Sounder, MLS, instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite from 2005-2010 for wind circulation changes.
They compared the timing of those changes with of stratospheric and tropospheric ozone from instruments. “This sort of study is exciting because it reveals connections between the stratosphere and troposphere on timescales of a few years, with implications for connections on multi-decadal timescales,” said Anne Douglass, Aura project scientist at NASA.
While the mechanisms changing wind circulation over the course of six months, such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, are different from those changing it over a century, the difference “likely doesn’t matter in terms of the impact on tropospheric ozone,” Neu said. “This study gives us confidence that the impact in the future will be on the same order of magnitude — around two percent.”
High above the tropics, a pattern of winds changed recently in a way that scientists had never seen in over 60 years. But mysteriously, some ‘anomaly’ seems to have interrupted the stratospheric wind pattern. For the first time, scientists have observed a change from the typical alternating pattern of easterly and westerly winds in the equatorial stratosphere. No known cause is making this change.
This disruption to the wind pattern–called the “quasi-biennial oscillation”–did not have any immediate impact on weather or climate as we experience it on Earth’s surface. But it does raise interesting questions for the NASA scientists who observed it: If a pattern holds for six decades and then suddenly changes, why? “The quasi-biennial oscillation is the stratosphere’s Old Faithful,” said Paul Newman, Chief Scientist at NASA. “If Old Faithful stopped for a day, you’d begin to wonder about what was happening under the ground.”
Mechanics Of The Easterlies And Westerlies
Winds in the tropical stratosphere extending 10-30 miles up, circulate the earth in alternating easterly and westerly directions over about two-years. Westerly winds develop at the top of the stratosphere, and gradually descend to about 10 miles above the surface, while being replaced by a layer of easterly winds above them. In turn, the easterlies descend and are replaced by westerlies. This pattern repeats every 28 months. In the 1960s scientists called it the “quasi-biennial oscillation.” The record of these measurements, made by weather balloons at various global points, dates back to 1953.
The pattern never changed – until late 2015. Winds from the west neared the end of their typical descent. But then the westerlies appeared to move upwards and block the downward movement of the easterlies. This new pattern held for nearly half a year, and by July 2016 the old regime kicked-in..
“It’s really interesting when nature throws us a curveball,” Newman said. The quasi-biennial oscillation has a huge influence on the stratosphere. The amount of ozone at the equator changes by 10 percent, while the oscillation also has an impact on levels of polar ozone.
With this disruption now documented, Newman is currently studying both its causes and potential implications. They have two hypotheses for what could have triggered it – the particularly strong El Niño in 2015-16, or the long-term trend of rising global temperatures. Newman is conducting further research on determining how to figure out if the event was a “black swan,” a once-in-a-generation event, or a “canary in the coal mine.”
Ozone ‘Depleters’ Are Non-Existent
Bottom line, there has been no ozone depletion, especially from this ‘quasi-biennial oscillation.’ A wind pattern with an oblivious pattern cannot be explained. There has been no depletion of ozone, probably for the last 20 eons. But the erroneous “Montreal Protocol” has been enacted to eradicate ‘ozone depletion’ since 1985. Funny how ozone depletion was supposed to have a 60-80 year delay due to Chloroflourocarbons floating to the stratosphere.
Because of this erroneous ‘Montreal Protocol’ has eradicated more than half a million jobs in the US alone.
The case of Ozone And Carbon Dioxide is readily explained by Dr. Tim Ball–A Case Of Déjà Vu, November 2, 2008.
One can see the drastic seasonal ozone changes every year.
Kevin Roeten can be reached at roetenks@CHARTER.NET.
© Copyright by Kevin Roeten, 2016. All rights reserved.