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Spectrometer to Help Preserve Ozone Layer
September 21, 2010 16:42

Russian physicists used their enormous experience in monitoring atmospheric ozone within millimeter wave range and developed a radio spectrometer for measuring vertical distribution of ozone degrading molecules of chlorine oxide in atmosphere of our planet. Simultaneous measurements of ozone and chlorine oxide help correctly estimating how chlorine oxide affects depletion of ozone layer during cold time of a year.

The gas, known as ozone, is a very important chemical substance – it protects all living beings from dangerous biologically active UV-B part of solar ultraviolet radiation. Ozone absorbs solar radiation in stratosphere, thus becoming main factor of atmosphere’s heating, and in that way, affecting its temperature, dynamics and climate of the whole planet. Distribution of this gas over the globe, both vertical and horizontal, can be influenced by natural factors, like atmosphere dynamics (traveling of air masses, wave propagation effects), thermal, radiation and chemical processes, volcanic eruptions, Sun’s activity and etc, as well as anthropogenic atmosphere pollution.



We all know that there are molecules, which are dangerous because they degrade ozone layer. Even a small concentration of these substances can be fatal for ozone. A bright example of their danger is a hole in ozone layer over the Antarctica, as large as 20 million square kilometers in spring, which is over two times more than area of the United States. This hole emerged due to chemical catalytic reactions, involving molecules of chlorine oxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and bromine compounds. Chlorine oxide appeared in Earth’s atmosphere from emissions of long-living freons, and its concentration is quite high. Calculations, based upon a great amount of various experimental data, our planet is now on the verge of the minimum of global ozone concentration ever.

After the hole in the ozone layer has been discovered, many countries signed Montreal Protocol, which regulates, restricts and bans emission of most dangerous ozone-degrading substances into the air. Scientists hope that if all chapters of Montreal Protocol and its updates would be accurately followed, then recovery of the ozone layer starts in 10 years and is expected to last for 50 years.

According to World Meteorological Organization, chlorine oxide is the most dangerous chemical compound in terms of degrading ozone. That is why researchers insist that during measuring ozone concentration content and spatial distribution of chlorine oxide should also be measured. No measurements of either chlorine oxide concentration, or vertical distribution of this compound have ever been performed in Russia within a millimeter wave range. One of the reasons was the lack of necessary equipment, and that is why physicists are now working hard to solve this problem.

Researchers have already built a microwave spectrometer for measuring vertical profiles of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. Measurements of chlorine oxide require similar equipment, but much more sensitive, since concentration of chlorine oxide in upper atmospheric layers is several thousand times less than that of ozone. Such a device is already developed and is currently being built in Lebedev Institute of Physics, Russian academy of sciences.

Source: The Institute of Physics

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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