Climate tracking experiment celebrates 10 years

Nov 06, 2013 by Jessica Lewis
Professor Kim Strong and U of T physicist Kaley Walker, with ground-based instruments used in the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment. Credit: Diana Tyszko

Scientists, industry and government representatives gathered at the University of Toronto recently for the 10-year anniversary of the successful Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment known as ACE.

Since ACE launched into the stratosphere on board a small Canadian satellite known as SCISAT a decade ago it has provided a steady stream of data that have played a huge role in understanding the depletion and recovery of the ozone layer.

"We're thrilled to share the great success of SCISAT and remember that day when the satellite took its first measurements and reported back," said U of T physicist Kaley Walker, deputy mission scientist of ACE. "This has been a great experiment to work on for U of T."

SCISAT's 650-kilometre-high orbit takes it over the polar regions of the Earth, as well as tropical and mid-latitude locations. It measures more than 30 different chemicals – more than any other satellite – that influence the distribution of , particularly in the Arctic.

ACE data have also validated environmental policy aimed at protecting the . The Montreal Protocol, signed by United Nations leaders in 1987, prohibits the production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), requires that refrigerants and fire extinguishers be recycled properly and bans the release of ozone-depleting refrigerants when servicing air conditioners or refrigeration equipment.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

ACE data show that, since the ban, the concentrations of these ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere are decreasing.

The two instruments aboard SCISAT – the Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) and the Measurements of Aerosol Extinction in the Stratosphere and Troposhere Retrieved by Occultation (MAESTRO) – have doubles that stay on Earth. Each spring, the ground-based instruments travel to Eureka, Nunavut to verify the data produced by the satellite.

SCISAT has also been able to collect data on other environmental dangers, including pollution from wildfires and forest fires and volcanoes.

"The ACE mission is still going strong," said Walker. "We look forward to what else we can observe with it as our mission continues."

Explore further: Synchronization of North Atlantic, North Pacific preceded abrupt warming, end of ice age

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UN hails 25-year ozone treaty for preventing disaster

Sep 14, 2012

The United Nations treaty to protect the ozone layer signed nearly 25 years ago prevented an environmental disaster, a chief UN scientist said Friday, cautioning though that the Earth's radiation shield is ...

Is the ozone layer on the road to recovery?

Feb 10, 2013

(Phys.org)—Satellites show that the recent ozone hole over Antarctica was the smallest seen in the past decade. Long-term observations also reveal that Earth's ozone has been strengthening following international ...

Significant ozone hole remains over Antarctica

Oct 20, 2011

The Antarctic ozone hole, which yawns wide every Southern Hemisphere spring, reached its annual peak on September 12, stretching 10.05 million square miles, the ninth largest on record. Above the South Pole, ...

Recommended for you

Fires in Central Africa During July 2014

3 hours ago

Hundreds of fires covered central Africa in mid-July 2014, as the annual fire season continues across the region. Multiple red hotspots, which indicate areas of increased temperatures, are heavily sprinkled ...

NASA's HS3 mission spotlight: The HIRAD instrument

13 hours ago

The Hurricane Imaging Radiometer, known as HIRAD, will fly aboard one of two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft during NASA's Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel or HS3 mission from Wallops beginning August 26 through ...

Fires in the Northern Territories July 2014

Jul 23, 2014

Environment Canada has issued a high health risk warning for Yellowknife and surrounding area because of heavy smoke in the region due to forest fires. In the image taken by the Aqua satellite, the smoke ...

User comments : 0