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New simulation shows consequences of a world without Earth's natural sunscreen
Date:3/19/2009

hover between 50 and 100 DU (down from 300-500 in 1960). The intensity of UV radiation at Earth's surface doubles; at certain shorter wavelengths, intensity rises by as much as 10,000 times. Skin cancer-causing radiation soars.

"Our world avoided calculation goes a little beyond what I thought would happen," said Goddard scientist and study co-author Richard Stolarski, who was among the pioneers of atmospheric ozone chemistry in the 1970s. "The quantities may not be absolutely correct, but the basic results clearly indicate what could have happened to the atmosphere. And models sometimes show you something you weren't expecting, like the precipitous drop in the tropics."

"We simulated a world avoided," said Newman, "and it's a world we should be glad we avoided."

The real world of CFC regulation has been somewhat kinder. Production of ozone-depleting substances was mostly halted about 15 years ago, though their abundance is only beginning to decline because the chemicals can reside in the atmosphere for 50 to 100 years. The peak abundance of CFCs in the atmosphere occurred around 2000, and has decreased by roughly 4 percent to date.

Stratospheric ozone has been depleted by 5 to 6 percent at middle latitudes, but has somewhat rebounded in recent years. The largest recorded Antarctic ozone hole was recorded in 2006.

"I didn't think that the Montreal Protocol would work as well as it has, but I was pretty naive about the politics," Stolarski added. "The Montreal Protocol is a remarkable international agreement that should be studied by those involved with global warming and the attempts to reach international agreement on that topic."


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Contact: Sarah DeWitt
sarah.l.dewitt@nasa.gov
301-286-0535
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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