Airborne Antarctic Ozone Experiment

Project Description
The Airborne Antarctic Ozone Experiment, a multi-institutional effort managed by NASA Ames with participation by Ames scientists, was a major airborne campaign conducted during August and September of 1987 to study the sudden and unanticipated decrease observed in the abundance of ozone over Antarctica in the Austral spring since 1979. Specially instrumented NASA ER-2 and DC-8 aircraft were used to acquire a database on the chemical, meteorological and cloud-physical parameters associated with the phenomenon. The aircraft experiments were coupled with data from three separate satellite systems and ground based sensors located in various places on Antarctica. The collection of data from all experiments was the result of international collaboration and represents the most massive data acquisition ever performed over the Antarctic region.

The instrumentation used to acquire the airborne data was developed under long-standing programs funded by the Upper Atmospheric Research and Tropospheric Chemistry offices of NASA's Earth Science and Applications Division. Results of the mission were presented at a Polar Ozone Symposium in Snowmass, Colorado in May of 1988. A two volume special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research devoted to this experimental effort was published in August and November of 1989. The data obtained during the Antarctic mission show the lowest ozone levels ever recorded and directly implicate man-made chemical compounds, chlorofluorocarbons, in the enormous ozone loss over this remote region in the southern hemisphere.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence leading to this conclusion is shown in the chart . These data, measured on the ER-2 aircraft as it flew south from Chile into the ozone hole, show the dramatic inverse correlation between ozone and chlorine monoxide. Because chlorine monoxide is produced by the process in which manmade chlorine destroys ozone, the large quantities observed provide strong evidence that manmade chemicals are involved in the Antarctic ozone loss process.


COLLABORATORS: NASA Goddard, NASA Langley, Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, NOAA Aeronomy Lab, National Center for
Atmospheric Research, AER Inc., Harvard University,
University of Denver, University of Washington,
U.K. Meteo-rological Office, the European Center for
Medium Range Forecasting, and CNRM.

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