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Name: Anibiet
Status: Student
Grade: Other
Location: N/A
Country: United States
Date: July 2008


Question:
Does global warming affect the ozone layer? If yes, how?



Replies:
Aniebiet,

My answer is based on current thinking. The topic of global warming is subject of massive discussions (sometimes nasty arguments).

So far as I know today, global warming and the hole in the ozone layer are 2 distinct subjects. Chemicals called CFC's caused the hole in the ozone layer. Global warming causes are now focused on greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.

Warren Young


Aniebiet,

Global warming does affect the ozone layer, and thus the ozone layer affects weather and climate. You can find more details about this on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion and on the web site of the Union of Concerned Scientists at http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/global-warming-faq.html.

Briefly, there are several interactions that reduce the "ozone layer" in the Stratosphere. First, ozone is destroyed in the Stratosphere primarily by man-made chlorofluorocarbons and this process is enhanced by stratospheric clouds. Ozone and chlorofluorocarbons are themselves greenhouse gases; they absorb solar radiation and thus they heat the air slightly. So, the destruction of ozone in the "ozone layer" results in less heat being trapped, cooling of the stratosphere, enhanced stratospheric cloudiness (because it's colder), and therefore enhanced ozone depletion.

The stratosphere is also cooled by the warming of the lower part of the atmosphere (Troposphere). As greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) increase in concentration in the Troposphere, they absorb more terrestrial energy, they warm the Troposphere (global warming), and they don't allow as much energy to be lost (it is, in a sense, trapped in the troposphere) from the Troposphere to the Stratosphere. This also results in cooling of the Stratosphere, which leads to increased Stratospheric cloudiness and therefore enhanced ozone depletion.

A cooler Stratosphere has an effect on weather patterns, thereby affecting the weather (and longer term climate) in the Troposphere, where we live.

David R. Cook
Meteorologist
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory



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