Summer Storms Threaten Ozone Layer

Scientists have long known that holes in the ozone layer tend to appear above the arctic and Antarctica, but it seems the summer of thunder storms in the United States could damage the ozone layer above America.

The Christian Science Monitor reports Harvard University scientists have learned that some storms send water vapor miles into the stratosphere, an area that is usually bone dry. That moisture in high concentrations can alter conditions in ways that encourage ozone destruction when they interact with man-produced chemicals.

The New York Times adds that the findings may be linked to global warming. The idea is that more global warming equals more of the storms that can push the moisture to damage causing heights, and more of those will lead to more reactions that harm the ozone layer.

“It’s the union between ozone loss and climate change that is really at the heart of this,” James G. Anderson, an atmospheric scientist and the lead author of the study told the New York Times. “Now, they’re intimately connected.”

The report shows that under commonly observed conditions of water vapor and aerosol concentrations, the temperature at which ozone layer-damaging reactions take place is nearly minus 119 degrees Fahrenheit. With the amount of water vapor doubled, the temperature at which reactions start rises by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing it within the range of temperatures commonly found in the stratosphere during mid-latitude summers.

These conditions were observed over the United States but the researchers say the same results could exist across the globe at similar latitudes.

As if a thunderstorm isn’t scary enough on its own, now when you look out at those ominous clouds, there’s more to worry about than wind, rain and lightning. That storm could be punching holes in the ozone layer.