Airborne Arctic Stratospheric Expedition

Project Manager: Estelle Condon

Continuing the effort to address the Crucial scientific issue of global ozone depletion, a second major airborne field campaign was launched from a base in Norway during the early winter of 1989. The objectives of this expedition were to study the production and loss mechanisms of ozone in the north polar stratosphere and to study the effect on ozone distribution of the Arctic polar vortex and of the cold temperatures associated with the formation of Polar Stratospheric Clouds. The Arctic experiment was managed by NASA-Ames and was a collaborative effort involving the participation of scientists from Ames and from NASA centers at Goddard, Langley, and JPL. Also participating were scientists from the NOAA Aeronomy Lab, National Center for Atmospheric Research, KFA Julich, Harvard University, University of Denver, U.K. Meteorological Office, University of Oslo, Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Cambridge University.

The aircraft instrumentation was essentially the same as was flown in the Antarctic experiment , which was developed under support from the Upper Atmospheric Research Program, part of NASA's Earth Science and Applications Division. The ER-2 made primarily in situ measurements to altitudes of over 20 km, flying from the base at Stavanger to 80 N, while the DC-8, with its longer range, surveyed the polar vortex as far west as Greenland and as far north as the North Pole, making both remote sensing and in situ measurements. Early results from the mission were published in a special issue of Geophysical Research Letters, in March of 1990. They show no evidence of large-scale ozone loss as was found in the Antarctic, but, they do reveal that the same photochemical processes associated with the Polar Stratospheric Clouds are producing large amounts of reactive chlorine compounds with the potential to destroy ozone. The implication is that the man-made chlorine compounds are globally distributed and that a climatological change in the north polar vortex could precipitate a large ozone loss similar to that found over the Antarctic.

RESEARCH SITES: Arctic Circle COLLABORATORS: NASA Goddard, NASA Langley, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NOAA Aeronomy Lab, National Center for Atmospheric Research, KFA Julich, Harvard University, University of Denver, U.K. Meteorological Office, University of Oslo, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Cambridge University.

To return to the SG Research Summaries Menu click here.