Location and extent of low ozone concentrations (Credit: Alfred Wegener Institute)
Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany have discovered a hole in the troposphere above the western Pacific Ocean, according to a release. They say its existence helps explain long-running discrepancies between theoretical models of ozone depletion and actual ozone measurements.
Weather balloons were released in the region to measure the amount of hydroxyl radicals, the main constituent of the troposphere. Hydroxyl is called the “detergent of the atmosphere” because it is highly reactive and can break down pollutants.
The balloons recorded the constituent largely missing over a span of nine miles. With such a lack of hydroxyl over the western Pacific, chemicals escape through to the stratosphere above. There, researchers say they contribute to the breakdown of ozone and could play a role in ozone depletion over the poles.
Image: Location and extent of low ozone concentrations (Credit: Alfred Wegener Institute)