Source of data here.
Ozone is a greenhouse gas that absorbs radiant energy from the Earth at 9-10 um heating the air. It accumulates in the winter hemisphere but not over the polar cap. The descent of very cold, dense, ozone deficient air from the mesosphere is promoted by increased surface pressure over the polar cap. The resulting difference in air density either side of about 60-70° of latitude is responsible for the formation of polar cyclones where differences in air density between 300 hPa and 50 hPa create upper level troughs that propagate to the surface.
The term NOx refers to the mono nitrogen compounds of nitrogen, NO and NO2. NOx is abundant in the troposphere and less so in the mesosphere. NOx catalytically destroys ozone.
The depression in surface pressure on the margins of Antarctica in October as documented above (rather than in December or January when the atmosphere is warmest) is related to the establishment of the aforementioned difference in atmospheric density across the polar vortex and the consequent generation of intense polar cyclones.
The more severe is polar cyclone activity, the more surface pressure falls away over all latitude bands south of 50° south latitude. The diagram above displays the evolving decline in surface pressure over the last seven decades.
The diagram above and another immediately below represent unacknowledged ‘smoking guns’ of natural rather than man made climate change. If we acknowledge the natural influence there is no need for other arguments to explain the change in climate that has occurred.
Strong winds (jet streams) are found at the 200 hPa level, much stronger than at the surface. The relatively abrupt increase in the temperature of the air at 200 hPa in the southern hemisphere that occurred in the late 1970’s changed the parameters of the climate system. Some have described the accompanying 1°C increase in tropical sea surface temperature as a manifestation of the Great Climate Shift of 1976-78.
This chapter explores the origin of the Antarctic ‘ozone hole’ finding that it is entirely natural in origin.
THE HOW AND WHY
On the margins of Antarctica we have a very special place where extremely low surface pressure manifests all year round. Even in July when surface pressure peaks strongly over the Antarctic continent there is anomalously low surface pressure on the margins of Antarctica. This is the part of the globe where surface pressure is regularly less than anywhere else, including the massive Eurasian continent in the height of summer. The force that is responsible for this pressure deficit is unknown to climate science. It is the lack of knowledge of the forces involved that has enabled the ‘ozone hole’scare to to be perpetuated. The horse of ‘ozone deficit’ has been harnessed to the global warming cart in an effort to implicate man when both phenomena are actually the result of natural processes that have their origin in the distribution of land and sea.
Climate science has no explanation for the existence of the massive deficit in atmospheric mass on the margins of Antarctica (fewer molecules in the atmospheric column) let alone an explanation for the decline in surface pressure over the last seventy years. The gradual loss of atmospheric mass points to an increasing differential in air density within and without the polar vortex driven by ozone heating of the atmosphere outside the vortex and ozone depletion within it. We can infer from the surface pressure data that the ozone hole has intensified over the decades. We can also see that the existence of the hole pre-dated the manufacture and widespread use of those compounds that have been restricted under the Montreal protocol designed to ‘save the ozone layer’. This protocol was the first major triumph of the environmental movement that laid the groundwork for the United Nations to explore the supposed warming effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a warming effect that has yet to be demonstrated to the satisfaction of those whose field of expertise is atmospheric physics. So effective has the agitation of the environmental movement been that advanced western nations have, regardless of consequences, fallen in love with the idea of utilizing the energy from the sun and the wind while capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and burying it in reservoirs underground. Don Quixote rides again but he rides through a greener countryside due to the response of plants to the easing of a carbon dioxide deficit. To a photosynthesising plant 400 ppm of carbon dioxide in the air represents near starvation. As the CO2 content of the air has increased all CO2 using organisms have responded magnificently.
Back in 1948-56 the ozone hole was severe in November. Today it is severe in October. That is what the first graph above tells us. It tells us also that surface pressure in high latitudes has declined over time. We need to understand the sources of the extra ozone that has given rise to that increasing deficit in atmospheric mass, increased the vorticity of polar cyclones on the margins of Antarctica, enhanced the velocity of the westerly winds that drive southwards from the mid latitudes and produced the marked rise in the temperature of the air at 200 hPa between 1976-8 in the mid altitudes of the southern hemisphere.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF OZONE AT THE 50 hPa PRESSURE LEVEL IN 2015
The last chapter explored the structure of the atmosphere on 20th August 2015 by way of introduction to this discussion.
As can be see via inspection of the diagrams immediately above, the slowly developing ‘hole’ of ozone deficient air at 50 hPa first becomes evident after 30th July. The slight green tracer increased in latitudinal thickness over the month of August at about latitude 60° south. By 9th September it manifests as a dark blue zone of fully depleted ozone on the margins of the Antarctic continent. The zone of depletion grows to occupy the entire Antarctic continent from 19th September through to the 8th November.
Inspecting the diagram above we see that temperature of the air at 50 hPa on September 19th is in excess of the of the -77°C necessary for the functioning of the chlorine chemistry that works in conjunction with polar stratospheric cloud to destroy ozone. At this time of the year the temperature at 50 hPa is not only too warm for chlorine chemistry but it is warming fast and not looking back. This occurs as the very cold ozone deficient air inside the vortex is withdrawing back into the mesosphere from whence it came. It is being replaced by air from the lower stratosphere, below 50 hPa.
We notice that the hole first manifests not at the core over the pole where temperature is coolest but on the margins of the polar circulation where the temperature is warmest and grows by extension from that outer margin. This too, is inconsistent with chlorine chemistry.
As we see below surface atmospheric pressure falls steeply between 75°and 90° south latitude as the ozone hole is established in the period from 19th September through to the 8th of November.
The steep reduction in Antarctic surface pressure that begins in mid September is a result of two influences. Firstly there is cooling in the northern hemisphere allowing a shift of atmospheric mass back across the equator. Secondly, there is the fall in surface pressure associated with the development of the hole. The hole exaggerates the difference in the temperature and the density of the air between the polar cap over Antarctica on the one hand and the air over the Southern Ocean that is ozone rich on the other. The density gradient that drives polar cyclone generation is enhanced as the ozone hole builds.
In order to track the distribution of ozone on 20th August as the ozone hole begins to develop, I refer the reader to the detailed diagrams immediately below. The view is polar stereographic with Antarctica at the centre and South America at 10 O’Clock. I suggest the reader begins with a close inspection of the data at top left and moves about in a clockwise fashion.
Source of this data here
In the core of the circulation the air is relatively deficient in ozone (top left) and relatively dry (top right). The inner core of the circulation is also free of NOx (bottom right). The core is occupied by dry mesospheric air that descends in the winter season as surface pressure increases to a planetary maximum over the Antarctic land mass.
Below is the situation in terms of pressure relations. The depth of the pressure deficit at 60-70° south is a product of polar cyclone activity. This pressure deficit is the direct product of local differences in air density.
Look again at the set of 4 diagrams above. At 50 hPa (top left) peak ozone manifests in a narrow, unbroken ring like band with a diminished diameter by comparison with total column ozone (bottom left). Look carefully to see the distribution of NOx derived from the diagram bottom right that is co-extensive with the zone of low temperature at 70 hPa (bottom left).
Observe the erosion of the ozone content of the air inside the margins of the annular ring of highest ozone concentration in the diagram top left. This erosion is a product of the joint activity of water, in which ozone is soluble and NOx that chemically destroys ozone as it is drawn into the heart of the polar cyclones that surround the continent(see below).
Look carefully at the diagram bottom right in the set of 4 diagrams above. At 50 hPa NOx is plainly drawn into the upwardly ascending circulation inside the zone of peak ozone concentration at 50 hPa. The distribution of NOx is almost co-extensive with the zone of very low surface pressure seen immediately above and it lies across and inside the cordon of air that is rich in ozone. This mixture of air from the mesosphere and the weather-sphere ascends in the core of polar cyclones and presents as a near laminar flow at 70 hPa. It will continue to ascend to the uppermost parts of the atmospheric column at 10 hPa (30 km, 99% of atmospheric mass below) and beyond. By the end of October the air at 1 hPa will attain a temperature of 0°C being 5°C warmer than the air over the equator and 25°C warmer than the air over the Arctic at this same level. This occurs at a time when the sun has just appeared over the horizon. The warmth of the air is due primarily to the absorption of long wave radiation from the Earth by ozone that is transported aloft by this circulation.
We can now transfer our attention to the diagrams below. In the initial stages of the development of the ozone hole the zone of high surface pressure across the continent maintains a slightly enhanced ozone concentration (yellow tones) by comparison with the perimeter of the continent where green tones prevail. But, look at what happens as surface pressure falls and the temperature of the air across the polar cap rapidly increases:
Compare the distribution of NOx (below) to the distribution of ozone within the ‘hole’ shown above. There is plainly a very close identity in terms of the spatial arrangement. The cause of this ‘ozone hole’ phenomenon is plain to see.
NOx migrates into the core of the circulation depleting its ozone content from the margins of Antarctica where it is entrained with ozone. This NOx charged air gradually occupies the entire space over the continent that formerly exhibited high surface pressure, extreme cold and a very dry atmosphere with some ozone. This is the process that erodes ozone to produce the ‘ozone hole’. It proceeds by gradual replacement of one sort of air with another, the latter including a compound, namely NOx, that soaks up ozone. It closes from the perimeter like the iris in the aperture of a camera.
Plainly NOx rich air is progressively entrained into the core of the circulation over the continent as mesospheric air stalls in its descent. NOx rich air from below 50 hPa accumulates in the lower stratosphere as the formerly descending circulation withdraws. The hole is a function of atmospheric dynamics that are initiated in August on the margin of the ‘night zone’. It is unrelated to the incidence of solar radiation or the return of sunlight and any possible involvement with stratospheric clouds and chlorine chemistry. NOx destroys ozone in the Antarctic atmosphere as efficiently as it destroys ozone in near equatorial latitudes.
There is no correlation between the amount of ozone within the core and that without. In other words ozone levels in the wider stratosphere remain high as ozone levels plummet within the localized ‘hole’. This is inconsistent with the ozone hole narrative beloved by those who maintain that the activities of man are endangering the global stratosphere.
The diagrams below trace the gradual disappearance of NOx and its replacement with relatively ozone enriched air. This is made possible by the ingress of air from the perimeter (contraction of the vortex structure) and the chemical exhaustion of NOx. Rather than being confined to the perimeter of the continent as it is in winter, ozone rich air floods over the whole, occupying the entire continent by December 31st when temperature at 50 hPa reaches its annual maximum. (see the fifth diagram in this chapter).
As NOx inside the hole disappears, so too does the ozone hole. The resultant warming of the lower stratosphere at 50 hPa marks the transition to the ‘final warming’ over the polar cap and the change from descent in the core to gentle ascent with an accompanying 180° swing in the direction of the wind at 10 hPa. The evolution of the winds and the temperature of the air is shown below.
EVOLUTION OF THE WINDS AT 10 hPa
The diagram below shows the temperature of the air at 10 hPa and the direction of the wind on 13th August as the hole begins to manifest. Data from here.
On 13th August (above) there is a vigorous clockwise circulation of very cold mesospheric air directly over the Antarctic continent. Cold mesospheric air extends as far north as 30° south latitude. North of 30° south latitude the air circulates in an anticlockwise direction.
By 4th December (above) the vortex of mesospheric air is much reduced in its latitudinal spread and 65°C warmer. The zone of air that rotates in an anticlockwise direction has expanded and the internal core that rotates clockwise has contracted.
By 22nd December (above) as the last vestiges of the ozone hole disappear into the wider atmosphere, the air at 10 hPa has reversed in its direction of flow and is now circulating in an anticlockwise direction. This will persist until the resumption in the intake of mesospheric air as surface pressure over Antarctica begins to build in February.
This is the same process that is responsible for stratospheric warmings in winter except that the winter warming may involve the displacement of the vortex off the polar cap, particularly so in the northern hemisphere. Displacement is extremely rare in the southern hemisphere where the vortex is firmly anchored over the Antarctic continent. The degree of anchoring and the appearance of the ‘ozone hole’ is a function of the distribution of land and sea. The sea supports the development of low pressure (ozone rich) zones in winter and the land supports the development of high pressure zones (rich in dry, relatively ozone deficient mesospheric air). Unlike the southern hemisphere there is no facilitating land mass within the Arctic Circle. Rather there is land in Eastern Eurasia and across northern Canada and Greenland. The increase of atmospheric pressure in the northern hemisphere in winter tends to occur over the land masses rather than over the Arctic Ocean.
Accordingly, the synoptic situation in the northern hemisphere is always more complex and less stable.
The relative ozone poverty of the entire southern hemisphere is a product of the strength of the mesospheric flow and the constant escape of this air into the wider atmosphere. The so called ‘vortex’ is actually a chain of polar cyclones that might be compared to a chain of egg beaters with their mixing heads set at between 300 hPa and 50 hPa in elevation at an altitude where ozone, and the density of the air is most variable. Accordingly, there is a great deal of horizontal movement and vigorous mixing at this elevation. Egg beaters mix and so too do this chain of polar cyclones.
The notion of a so called containing ‘strong vortex’ that acts as some sort of wall separating relatively dry cold mesospheric air from ozone rich air on the periphery is nonsense. If the chain of cyclones intensifies, a wave in the chain develops or a major cyclone breaks free of the chain then cold air traverses lower latitudes. The notion of containment is un-physical.
The notion of planetary waves that supposedly govern the temperature of the polar cap at higher elevations may be likened to the suggestion that the tail wags the dog rather than the other way round. The area of high surface pressure inside a ring of polar cyclones that supports a descending vortex simply expands and contracts according to the flux in surface pressure over the Antarctic continent. When I pass my hand across the surface of a pond is the depression of the water level behind my hand responsible for the movement of my hand?
Some commentators will suggest that the ozone hole is a natural feature of the Antarctic circulation and may be of the opinion that it has been aggravated by chlorine chemistry. This argument ignores the introduction of NOx to the circulation in the lower stratosphere and the disappearance of the zone of higher surface pressure across the continent enabling the ring of polar cyclones to close in as the circulation over the polar cap responds to reduced surface pressure.
The increase in the contrast in ozone partial pressure as a consequence of the ‘hole’ assists to lower surface pressure across the polar domain in October because it intensifies polar cyclone activity.
The increase in the ozone content of the polar stratosphere on the equatorial side of the low pressure zone as a consequence of the reduced flow of air from the mesosphere acts to strengthen polar cyclone activity, directly reducing surface pressure across the entire domain further weakening the flow of mesospheric air that modulates ozone partial pressure. This represents a strong feedback mechanism that promotes the relatively sudden appearance of the ‘ozone hole’.
There is no response in the wider atmosphere to ozone deletion within the hole.
The temperature of the air is too warm for chlorine chemistry prior to and at the time when the hole reaches its greatest extent.
In evaluating the argument for aggravation of the hole due to chlorine chemistry we need to be mindful of certain things:
- The increase in the temperature of the stratosphere over Antarctica over the period of record since 1948 indicates a diminution in the flow of mesospheric air into the wider atmosphere allowing ozone partial pressure to build. The resulting increase in temperature is most marked in October as we see in the diagram immediately above. This is a function of ozone enhancement in the atmosphere outside the ‘hole’ and ozone depletion within, that acts to reduce surface pressure.
- If chlorine chemistry were the cause of a hole then it should be reflected in an erosion of ozone and a fall in the temperature of the Antarctic stratosphere generally, both within and without the hole. The reverse is in fact the case.
- The increase in temperature wrought by ozone increases the vorticity of polar cyclones and the rate of influx of NOx into the lower stratosphere over the polar cap as the hole develops. NOx enters in the horizontal rather than the vertical domain. and therefore the hole manifests in the lower stratosphere.
- The reduced surface pressure in high latitudes in October has the effect of stalling the rate of infusion of mesospheric air in late spring, bringing on an earlier and longer lasting ‘final warming’ involving an earlier and more emphatic choking of the winter circulation. The result is an enhanced presence for NOx in the lower stratosphere and enhanced convection involving a direct enhancement of the ozone deficient ‘hole’ and a marked warming of the upper stratosphere in October as the hole manifests. It is the warming in October that has been the most noticeable change in the southern stratosphere since 1976.
- Finally, we can note that in terms of inter annual and inter-decadal temperature variability at 10 hPa, from latitude 50° south to the Antarctic pole it is the months of September and October that stand out as extreme. The graph below documents this point.
Climate variability at any point on the Earth’s surface has two origins. It proceeds via the alteration of the partial pressure of ozone via the descent of mesospheric air either in the Antarctic or the Arctic. The effect of Arctic processes is felt in the Antarctic between November and May (see below). It is in the winter season that polar atmospheric processes drive change. Accordingly variation in surface air temperature is most extreme in winter. The diagram below confirms that point so far as the Antarctic is concerned.
POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND GOVERNMENT
These observations undermine the rationale for the Montreal protocol that involved the limitation of the emissions of certain chemicals supposedly harmful to the ‘ozone layer’. That protocol represents an error of judgement based on the desire of ‘environmental activists’ to influence public policy. The enthusiasts who promoted this story were and continue to be responsible for a costly distraction. The inconvenience and waste that has been involved in the implementation of this protocol is regrettable. The most grievously affected should sue the proponents of the Montreal Protocol and their supporters in government that continue to promote this argument. A vigorous pursuit of those involved is desirable in order to secure a more circumspect expression of opinion by elements of society hell-bent on promoting the notion that catastrophe of one sort or another is about to engulf mankind. The catastrophe in this case is but a figment of their enthusiastic, no doubt well meaning but ultimately deluded imaginations. These people are in fact ‘the catastrophe’. They should be forced to bear responsibility for their advocacy. They have injured society that trusted their expertise as ‘scientists’. The injury is related to both the material and the intellectual well being of humanity and its notions of self worth. The effect has been wholly pernicious.
WHY HAS THIS CHANGE IN THE ATMOSPHERE OCCURRED BRINGING WITH IT AN INCREASE IN THE OZONE CONTENT OF THE AIR?
The strength of the ‘zonal wind’ that circulates at 50-90° south latitude is related to geomagnetic activity as a product of the Earth’s electromagnetic environment and its response to the solar wind. The abstract reproduced below appeared on-line in January 2016. It points to a solar influence on the circulation of the air in high latitudes. It is the latest of many papers that have appeared over the last thirty of forty years that point to the same mode of causation, all studiously ignored by those who write UNIPPC reports. The UN and the EEC have assiduously promoted the story of catastrophic global warming. The UNIPCC analysis is pursued in ignorance of the change in the parameters of the climate system set in high southern latitudes that condition the planetary winds, cloud cover and surface temperature. The promotion of the idea of ‘anthropogenic climate change’ has been pursued despite the manifest inability of climate models to predict the course of global temperature over the last 18 years. It is time to say, enough is enough, to become a little more analytical and for common sense to prevail.
A collapse in the zonal wind represents a reduction in the flow of air from the mesosphere into the polar atmosphere. It results in an increase in the ozone content of the atmospheric column impacting surface pressure, the distribution of atmospheric mass and the planetary winds.
Let’s be quite plain. Here we are referring to the agent of change in the daily synoptic situation and climate in all parts of the globe on all time scales.
Climate is driven by two influences, one stronger than the other, one operating in the middle of the year (Antarctica) and one at and about its commencement (the Arctic). These influences yield a tell-tale variation in the temperature of the air according to latitude as documented here.