Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hunt on for the real killer

Freon, a trace gas convicted of crimes against humanity -- specifically the ongoing destruction of the earth's ozone layer -- is hopeful that it will soon be released from custody after news reports today indicate that the real ozone killer is still on the loose.

Sun's Temper Blamed for Arctic Ozone Loss, declares Robert Roy Britt of LiveScience.com.
Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.

In a new study, scientists conclude that an intense round of solar storms around Halloween in 2003 was at the root of the problem. Charged particles from the storms triggered chemical reactions that increased the formation of extra nitrogen in the upper stratosphere, some 20 miles up. Nitrogen levels climbed to their highest in at least two decades.

Nitrogen is toxic to ozone.

Britt still toes the party line that the bulk of ozone depletion is caused by man-made CFCs, but he adds:
The new study suggests a better understanding is needed of how the Sun itself alters the ozone layer. "No one predicted the dramatic loss of ozone in the upper stratosphere of the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2004," said (University of Colorado physicist Cora) Randall said.
"That we can still be surprised illustrates the difficulties in separating atmospheric effects due to natural and human-induced causes."

The Oklahomilist declares that perhaps scientists should declare all bets off on ozone thinning, eat more brain food, and look for the real killer. Of course, if it is a surly sun at fault, what are you gonna do? We need artificial ozone machines in the upper stratosphere.

BTW, the report is worth reading for the cool html graphics alone. Sun explosions, flares and coronal mass ejections. Cool stuff.


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