Cloud seeds and ozone holes

Jul 30, 2012

New findings on the growth of ice clusters in Polar Stratospheric Clouds could help clarify the process of ozone depletion in the atmosphere.

The destruction of can take place within newly forming Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs), which serve as the battleground for manmade chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to attack and destroy ozone. These clouds form when clusters of frozen water "pick up" other atmospheric molecules such as methane, , and , similar to the way a snowball's girth increases as it rolls down a mountainside. Most previously established atmospheric models have assumed that a straightforward measurement, a geometrical cross section, of the ice particles is sufficient to understandthe particle formation process. However, an international team of scientists has uncovered new evidence that these clusters can attract and capture molecules from a much larger volume than the space the clusters physically occupy. The work is presented in a paper accepted to the AIP's The .

Researchers discovered this discrepancy in expected size by mimicking the growth process of cloud seeds in performed at the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry, part of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague. A beam of water clusters was sent through a chamber filled with a typical atmospheric gas such as methane or water vapor, and the team measured how many molecules the clusters picked up as they passed. They found that the clusters were able to pick up molecules even when those molecules did not collide directly with the clusters. Theoretical studies supported these results. The researchers hope their findings will allow for more accurate models to predict the dynamics of ice in PSCs, which will in turn impact scientists' understanding of atmospheric chemistry processes such as ozone depletion, which increases the amount of harmful ultraviolet light entering the Earth's atmosphere from the Sun.

Explore further: Migrating low-frequency tremors observed at shallow subduction interface

More information: "Uptake of atmospheric molecules by ice nanoparticles: Pickup cross sections" is published in The Journal of Chemical Physics. jcp.aip.org/resource/1/jcpsa6/v137/i3/p034304_s1

Related Stories

New insights into cloud formation

Mar 05, 2012

Clouds have a profound effect on the climate, but we know surprisingly little about how they form. Erika Sundén, researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has studied how extremely small cloud particles can ...

2008 ozone hole larger than last year

Oct 07, 2008

The 2008 ozone hole – a thinning in the ozone layer over Antarctica – is larger both in size and ozone loss than 2007 but is not as large as 2006.

CALIPSO spies polar stratospheric clouds

Feb 10, 2011

NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite was in the right place at the right time in early 2011. On January 4, while flying past the east coast of Greenland, ...

Key compound of ozone destruction detected

Jul 22, 2010

For the first time, KIT scientists have successfully measured in the ozone layer the chlorine compound ClOOCl which plays an important role in stratospheric ozone depletion. The doubts in the established models ...

Recommended for you

Image: The North Sea abloom

40 minutes ago

Despite its cold waters and harsh winds, the North Sea is a fertile basin for phytoplankton blooms. The drifting, plantlike organisms tend to be most abundant in late spring and early summer due to high levels ...

Warm winters, summer rain help wildfire recovery

1 hour ago

Using more than a decade's worth of daily satellite images, researchers have determined ecosystems of South Africa's Cape Floristic Region bounce back from wildfires much more quickly in warmer winter weather.

Satellite sees smoky skies over World Cup soccer

12 hours ago

Soccer fever gripped the U.S. at the same time as the smoke from Canadian wildfires gripped the skies over Vancouver, British Columbia. This was the site of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Finals on July ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.