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Key compound of ozone destruction detected
Date:7/22/2010

This release is available in German.

For the first time, KIT scientists have successfully measured in the ozone layer the chlorine compound ClOOCl which plays an important role in stratospheric ozone depletion. The doubts in the established models of polar ozone chemistry expressed by American researchers based on laboratory measurements are disproved by these new atmospheric observations. The established role played by chlorine compounds in atmospheric ozone chemistry is in fact confirmed by KIT's atmospheric measurements.

The ozone hole above the Antarctic and the destructive role of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and their decomposition products have become a synonym of both global environmental problems and their solution by concerted agreements worldwide. Scientific fundamental research into ozone chemistry of the atmosphere was the basis of international agreements, such as the Montreal Protocol of 1987, which has put limits on CFC production. The success of the political implementation of these scientific findings is reflected by the fact that the chlorine content of the atmosphere and, hence, the ozone destruction potential recently started to decrease slowly.

For the first time, scientists from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK) have detected using atmospheric infrared measurements the important, but rather unstable chlorine monoxide dimer (ClOOCl) that plays a central role in stratospheric ozone destruction at the end of the Arctic winter. During the polar winter after sunrise, ClOOCl rapidly forms atomic chlorine which may catalytically decompose ozone. The extent of ClOOCl decay caused by the short-wave sunlight determines the extent of stratospheric polar ozone decomposition.

However, understanding of the processes involved in ozone-destroying atmospheric chlorine chemistry was questioned by labor
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Contact: Inge Arnold
inge.arnold@kit.edu
49-724-782-2861
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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