PIA07994: Microwave Limb Sounder Measurements Depicting the Relationship Between Nitrous Oxide Levels and Ozone Loss, 2004-2005 Arctic Winter
 Target Name:  Earth
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Aura
 Spacecraft:  Aura
 Instrument:  MLS
 Product Size:  1013 x 939 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA07994.tif (2.858 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA07994.jpg (93.72 kB)

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Aura's Microwave Limb Sounder measures nitrous oxide, which is unaffected by stratospheric chemical processes. By studying changes in its levels, scientists can better understand how air is moving around and how ozone is affected by that air motion, allowing them to differentiate those changes from the ones caused by chemical ozone destruction. In these cross-sections of nitrous oxide (top) and ozone (bottom) data from Aura, changes in the levels of these two chemicals at various temperatures and latitudes are depicted over time. The white contour shows the approximate location of the polar vortex boundary.

The left panel data were collected on January 23, 2005, near the beginning of chemical ozone destruction this winter. Virtually all chemical loss occurred before March 10 (center panel). Ozone destruction extended throughout the polar vortex from about 15-20 kilometers (9-13 miles), but occurred only in the outer part of the vortex from 20-25 kilometers (13-16 miles). The differences between the two days are depicted in the right panel. The largest observed difference is about a 1.2 parts per million by volume decrease in ozone. Plots of nitrous oxide show a decrease in the region in the outer part of the vortex where most ozone loss occurs, indicating that air from above (where nitrous oxide is lower) has moved into this region. This downward motion brings higher ozone into the region where chemical loss is occurring, thus partially masking the effects of chemical loss. Calculations using Microwave Limb Sounder data to separate dynamical and chemical effects indicate maximum chemical ozone loss of approximately 2 parts per million by volume (approximately 60 percent) in the outer part of the vortex near 18-21 kilometers (11-13 miles), and approximately 1.5 parts per million by volume when averaged throughout the whole vortex region.

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