Canadian ozone network faces axe

Arctic monitoring stations hit by budget constraints.
Quirin Schiermeier, Nature

The Harper Government™ continues its war on science:

Arctic ozone levels hit a record low this year

Arctic ozone levels hit a record low this year (blue area, right), compared with a relative high (red) in 2010. R. Simmon/NASA

A key source of information about the health of the ozone layer above the Arctic looks set to be choked off.

In a year that saw the first genuine ‘ozone hole’ appear in the Northern Hemisphere, atmospheric scientists say they are shocked to learn that Environment Canada, the country’s environment agency, has decided to drastically reduce its ozone science and monitoring programme.

Its network of monitoring stations provides about one-third of the Arctic’s ozone measurements and this year contributed key data showing unprecedented depletion of stratospheric ozone over the Arctic. With regular in situ measurements going back to 1966, Canada also holds the longest-running record of atmospheric ozone levels in the world — an archive that is also threatened.

More (Click here)

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3 Responses to Canadian ozone network faces axe

  1. Alan Burke says:

    From NASA JPL:

    NASA Leads Study of Unprecedented Arctic Ozone Loss

    PASADENA, Calif. – A NASA-led study has documented an unprecedented depletion of Earth’s protective ozone layer above the Arctic last winter and spring caused by an unusually prolonged period of extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere.

    The study, published online Sunday, Oct. 2, in the journal Nature, finds the amount of ozone destroyed in the Arctic in 2011 was comparable to that seen in some years in the Antarctic, where an ozone “hole” has formed each spring since the mid-1980s. The stratospheric ozone layer, extending from about 10 to 20 miles (15 to 35 kilometers) above the surface, protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. …

    More (Click here)

    Here’s a link to the Nature article and the abstract: (unfortunately the full article is behind a pay wall)

    Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss in 2011
    Gloria L. Manney et al, Nature, DOI:10.1038/nature10556


    Chemical ozone destruction occurs over both polar regions in local winter–spring. In the Antarctic, essentially complete removal of lower-stratospheric ozone currently results in an ozone hole every year, whereas in the Arctic, ozone loss is highly variable and has until now been much more limited.

    Here we demonstrate that chemical ozone destruction over the Arctic in early 2011 was—for the first time in the observational record—comparable to that in the Antarctic ozone hole. Unusually long-lasting cold conditions in the Arctic lower stratosphere led to persistent enhancement in ozone-destroying forms of chlorine and to unprecedented ozone loss, which exceeded 80 per cent over 18–20 kilometres altitude.

    Our results show that Arctic ozone holes are possible even with temperatures much milder than those in the Antarctic. We cannot at present predict when such severe Arctic ozone depletion may be matched or exceeded.

  2. Alan Burke says:

    Here’s a link to a Liberal Party petition to the Prime Minister:

    Don’t let Conservatives cut Canadian ozone research
    There is a 2,000,000 km² hole in the ozone above Canada. Shouldn’t we know why?

    In a few short weeks, the Conservative government will end 45 years of internationally recognized Canadian-based research into ozone depletion – unless you raise your voice to stop them.

    That’s when Environment Canada’s ozone network — a ground- and air-based ozone monitoring research program that the prestigious scientific journal Nature described as “a linchpin of Arctic ozone observations” — will be drastically cut back.

    The ozone layer is critical to life on Earth. It protects us from incoming ultraviolet sunlight, which can cause cataracts, sunburn, skin cancers, and local and whole body immunosuppression.

    Each year, larger holes are appearing and we still don’t know why. But Canada is providing answers. Ozone depletion occurs primarily at the poles. Since Canada has sovereignty over so much of the Arctic, we are not only uniquely positioned to lead the study of it, but also have a responsibility to do so.

    But Conservatives don’t want you to know any of this. After word leaked of the cuts, Conservatives started a campaign to muzzle scientists and track down the source of the leak according to reports from CBC, Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen.

    They won’t even let Environment Canada scientists talk about their own work to the media. And they’ve let leading Canadian ozone researchers know their jobs are on the chopping block.

    There’s still time to reverse this disastrous Conservative policy.

    Liberals, like Environment Critic Dr. Kirsty Duncan, are leading the fight in the House of Commons. You can raise your voice with us to call on Conservatives to restore the Canadian ozone network research program.

    Sign the petition – click here

  3. Alan Burke says:

    Christine at “350 or bust” has published the lame response by our Environment Minister Peter Kent who couldn’t respond to Justin Trudeau’s straightforward question about what ozone is, and the difference between ozone at high and low levels of the atmosphere.

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