Watching for Arctic ozone holes

This year’s ACE Arctic Validation Campaign is moving smoothly towards its end. I’ve started to compare measurements taken from this year to 2012. We have all taken more spectra this year due to the great weather. We’ve enjoyed clear skies and sun for almost two weeks at PEARL. This year has been interesting because we’ve had very low temperatures. This might generate polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), which can accelerate ozone depletion in the stratosphere. This could be a very comparable to what happened in 2011, when an ozone hole was observed for the first time above the Arctic by scientists (including the PEARL team).  So, we are all very interested to see whether another ozone hole will form this year.

UT-GBS measurements of total ozone above Eureka in 2011 (ozone hole) and 2012

UT-GBS measurements of total ozone above Eureka in 2011 (ozone hole) and 2012

 However, at the same time, there hasn’t been a strong and steady polar vortex. The atmosphere above the Arctic is not isolated from the surrounding air, as it would be with a strong vortex. This reduces the chance of an ozone hole forming.

University of Toronto's Ground-Based Spectrometer (UT-GBS), located at PEARL

University of Toronto’s Ground-Based Spectrometer (UT-GBS), located at PEARL

I’ve performed initial analysis of data taken by one of my instruments, the UT-GBS (University of Toronto Ground Based Spectrometer), between late January and last Monday. I can see no severe stratosphere ozone depletion over Eureka. Yet. This might because air with high ozone concentrations can come into the high Arctic from outside freely, without facing the blockage from the vortex.

UT-GBS measurements of total ozone above Eureka in 2012 and 2013

UT-GBS measurements of total ozone above Eureka in 2012 and 2013

Including this year, the UT-GBS has been continuously taking measurements in Eureka for 13 years. We will continue to monitor the ozone concentration, and hope to understand whether Arctic ozone holes will form in the future.

– Xiaoyi Zhao

PhD student, University of Toronto

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About createarcticscience

The CREATE program for Arctic Atmospheric Science supports researchers and students across Canada. This blog provides a venue for sharing our experiences.
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