'Raining' electrons contribute to ozone destruction

December 13, 2000

First-time evidence shows electrons precipitating or 'raining' from Earth's magnetosphere are destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere.

Scientists involved in the study of Solar-Atmospheric Coupling by Electrons (SOLACE) will report on this finding at the Fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, December 15-19, 2000. They have determined that this coupling can create a significant amount of nitrogen oxides highlighting a new aspect of natural ozone destruction.

Billions of electrons spiral back and forth between Earth's poles in the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is an invisible region around Earth where its magnetic field controls the motions of charged particles (including electrons) in space. Even though the magnetosphere protects Earth from solar processes, the field itself can be disturbed. Fluctuations in solar wind, for example, can interfere with the magnetosphere and cause electrons to descend into the atmosphere.

"It's important that we know what events affect ozone in the stratosphere, and until now this effect on ozone hasn't been considered important," said Linwood Callis, lead research scientist for this work at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Current models used to study ozone variations and climate change have not taken this solar-atmospheric coupling into account. Scientists determined that the degree of electron precipitation is directly related to the 11-year solar cycle. By excluding this cycle in models, interpretation of observed ozone changes could be misleading. Data models including electron precipitation are much more accurate than models that exclude the effects of electrons.
Callis will present the findings of SOLACE at the AGU meeting in San Francisco, Monday, December 18, at 11:48 (Moscone Center 130, Session A11C).

Julia Cole, tel. (757) 864-4052
Chris Rink, tel. (757) 864-6786

RELEASE NO. 00-091

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.