Stratospheric Ozone Depletion and Antarctic Ozone Hole

Stratospheric ozone plays a very significant role in the radiation balance of the Earth-atmosphere system and also protects life on the Earth’s surface from harmful UV radiation. Changes in stratospheric ozone levels can affect human health and ecosystem as well as the chemistry of the troposphere.

In Chapter 5, we have seen that the atmospheric ozone can be destroyed by a number of free radical catalysts, the most important of which are the hydroxyl radical (OH), the nitric oxide radical (NO), and atomic chlorine (Cl) and bromine (Br). All these have both natural and anthropogenic (man-made) sources. At the present time, most of the OH and NO in the stratosphere is of natural origin, but human activity has dramatically increased the high concentration of carbon dioxide, chlorine, and bromine. These elements are found in certain stable organic compounds, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which may find their low reactivity. Once the Cl and Br atoms are liberated from the parent compounds by the action of UV light, it remains in the stratosphere for a longer period and goes on destroying ozone in this region.

A single chlorine atom would keep on destroying ozone for up to 2 years, the timescale required to transport back down to the troposphere, were it not for reactions that remove them from this cycle by forming reservoir species such as hydrogen chloride (HCL) and chlorine nitrate (ClONO2). On a per atom basis, bromine is even more efficient than chlorine at destroying ozone, but there is much less bromine present in the atmosphere. As a result, both chlorine and bromine contribute significantly to the overall ozone depletion. Laboratory studies have shown that fluorine and iodine atoms participate in analogous catalytic cycles. However, in the Earth’s stratosphere, fluorine atoms react rapidly with water and methane to form strongly bound HF, while organic molecules which contain iodine react so rapidly in the lower atmosphere that they do not reach the stratosphere in significant quantities.


Ozone Depletion Total Ozone Stratospheric Ozone Polar Vortex Lower Stratosphere 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brasseur G, Solomon S (2005) Aeronomy of the Middle Atmosphere, 2nd edition, Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  2. Blumenstock T, Kopp G, Hase F, Hochschild G, Mikuteit S, Raffalski U, Ruhnke R (2006) Observation of unusual chlorine activation by ground-based infrared and microwave spectroscopy in the late Arctic winter 2000/01, Atmos Chem Phys, 6: 897–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Callis, LB, Natarajan M (1986) Ozone and nitrogen dioxide changes in the stratosphere during 1979–84, J Geophys Res, 91:10771–10796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dameris M, Grewe V, Ponater M, Deckert R, Eyring V, Mager F, Matthes S, Schnadt C, Stenke A, Steil B, Bruhl C, Giorgetta MA (2005) Long-term changes and variability in a transient simulation with a chemistry climate model employing realistic forcing, Atmos Chem Phys, 5: 2121–2145Google Scholar
  5. Eduspace, The ozone hole, European Space Agency (http://eduspace.esa/int/subdocument/images/ozone-gen.jpg)
  6. Huck PE, McDonald AJ, Bodeker GE, Struthers H (2005) Interannual variability in Antarctic ozone depletion controlled by planetary waves and polar temperatures, Geophys Res Lett, 32: doi 10.1029/2005GL022943Google Scholar
  7. Farman JC, Gardiner BG, Shanklin JD (1985) Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOx/NOx interaction, Nature, 315: 207–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fromm M, Bevilacqua R, Servranckx R, Rosen J, Thayer JP, Herman J, Larko D (2005) Pyrocumulonimbus injection of smoke to the stratosphere: Observations and impact of a super blowup in northwestern Canada on 3–4 August 1998, J Geophys Res, 110: D08205, doi 10.1029/2004- JD005350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kodera K, Kuroda Y (2002) Dynamical response to the solar cycle, J Geophys Res, 107: 4749, doi 10.1029/2002JD002224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Labitzke K, Kunze M (2005) Stratospheric temperatures over the Arctic: Comparison of three data sets, Meteorol Z, 14: 65–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Langematz U, Kunze M (2006) An update on dynamical changes in the Arctic and Antarctic stratospheric polar vortices, Clim Dyn, 27: 647–660, doi 10.1007/s00382-006-0156-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Maduro RA, Schauerhammer R (1992) The holes in the ozone scare: the scientific evidence that the sky is not falling, In 21st Century Science Associates, John Wiley & Sons, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  13. NASA (2003) Studying Earth’s Environment from Space (
  14. Naujokat B, Roscoe HK (2005) Evidence against an Antarctic stratospheric vortex split during the periods of pre-IGY temperature measurements, J Atmos Sci, 62: 885–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Newman PA (2003) The Antarctic ozone hole, Chapter 11: Stratospheric Ozone: An Electronic Text, NASA, GSFCGoogle Scholar
  16. Newman PA, Kawa SR, Nash ER (2004) On the size of the Antarctic ozone hole, Geophys Res Lett, 31: doi 10.1029/2004GL020596Google Scholar
  17. Newman PA, Nash SR, Kawa ER, Montzke SA (2006) When will the Antarctic ozone hole recover? Geophys Res Lett, 33: doi. 10.1029/2005GL025232Google Scholar
  18. Pawson S, Labitzke K, Leder S (1998) Stepwise changes in stratospheric temperature, Geophys Res Lett, 25: 2157–2160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reinsel GC, Miller AJ, Weatherhead EC, Flynn LE, Nagatani R, Tiao GC, Wuebbles DJ (2005) Trend analysis of total ozone data for turnaround and dynamical contributions, J Geophys Res, 110: D16306, doi 10.1029/2004JD004662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rosenfield JE, Frith SM, Stolarski RS (2005) Version 8 SBUV ozone profile trends compared with trends from a zonally averaged chemical model, J Geophys Res, 110: D12302, doi 10.1029/-2004JD005466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ramaswamy V, Chanin ML, Angell JK, Barnett J, Gaffen D, Gelman ME, Keckhut P, Koshelkov Y, Labitzke K, Lin JJR, ONeill A., Nash J, Randel WJ, Rood R, Shine K, Shiotani M, Swinbank R (2001) Stratospheric temperature trends: Observations and model simulations, Rev Geophys, 39: 71–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ramaswamy V, Schwarzkopf MD, Randel WJ, Santer BD, Soden BJ, Stenchikov GL (2006) Anthropogenic and natural influences in the evolution of lower stratospheric cooling, Science, 311: 1138–1141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rosenfield JE, Douglass AR, Considine DB (2002) The impact of increasing carbon dioxide on ozone recovery, J Geophys Res, 107: 4049, doi 10.1029/2001JD000974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rowland RF (2007) Stratospheric ozone depletion by chlorofluorocarbons (Nobel Lecture), Appeared in Encyclopedia of Earth (ed; C. J. Cleveland)Google Scholar
  25. Santee MI, Manney GL, Livesey NJ, Froidevaux L, MacKenzie IA, Pumphrey HC, Read WG, Schwartz MJ, Waters JW, Harwood RS (2005) Polar processing and development of the 2004 Antarctic ozone hole: First results from MLS on aura, Geophys Res Lett, 32, doi 10.1029/2005GL022582Google Scholar
  26. Schoeberl MR, Douglass AR, Kawa SR, Dessler A, Newman PA, Stolarski RS, Roche AE, Waters JW, Russel III JM (1996) Development of the Antarctic ozone hole, J Geophys Res, 101: 20909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schoeberl MR, Kawa SR, Douglass AR, McGee TJ, Browell EV, Waters J, Livesey N, Read W, Froidevaux L, Santee ML, Pumphrey HC, Lait LR, Twigg L (2006) Chemical observations of a polar vortex intrusion, J Geophys Res, 111: D20306, doi 10.1029/2006JD007134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Solomon S, Garcia RR, Rowland FS, Wuebbles DJ (2005a) On the depletion of Antarctic ozone, Nature, 321: 755–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Solomon S, Portmann RW, Sasaki T, Hofmann DJ, Thompson DWJ (2005b) Four decades of ozonesonde measurements over Antarctica, J Geophys Res 110: D21311, doi 10.1029/ 2005JD005917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Steinbrecht W, Hassler B, Bruhl C, Dameris M, Giorgetta MA, Grewe V, Manzini E, Matthes S, Schnadt C, Steil B, Winkler P (2006) Interannual variation pattern of total ozone and lower stratospheric temperature in observations and model simulations, Atmos Chem Phys, 6: 349–374Google Scholar
  31. Stolarski RS, McPeters RD, Newman PA (2005) The ozone hole of 2002 as measured by TOMS, J Atmos Sci, 62: 716–720 ( Scholar
  32. Stolarski RS, Douglass AR, Steenrod S, Pawson S (2006) Trends in stratospheric ozone: Lessons learned from a 3D Chemical Transport Model, J Atmos Sci, 63: 1028–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stolarski RS, Douglass AR, Newman PA, Pawson S, Schoeberl MR (2006) Relative contribution of greenhouse gases and ozone changes to temperature trends in the stratosphere: A chemistry-climate model study NASA Report Document ID: 20070008218Google Scholar
  34. WMO (1995) Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 1994, Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project Report No. 37, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  35. WMO (World Meteorological Organization), Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2006 (2007) Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project Report No. 50, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Personalised recommendations