Diurnal Variation of Stratospheric Chlorine Monoxide: A Critical Test of Chlorine Chemistry in the Ozone Layer

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Science  15 Jun 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4654, pp. 1210-1214
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4654.1210


This article reports measurements of the column density of stratospheric chlorine monoxide and presents a complete diurnal record of its variation (with 2-hour resolution) obtained from ground-based observations of a millimeter-wave spectral line at 278 gigahertz. Observations were carried out during October and December 1982 from Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The results reported here indicate that the mixing ratio and column density of chlorine monoxide above 30 kilometers during the daytime are ∼ 20 percent lower than model predictions based on 2.1 parts per billion of total stratospheric chlorine. The observed day-to-night variation of chlorine monoxide is, however, in good agreement with recent model predictions, confirms the existence of a nighttime reservoir for chlorine, and verifies the predicted general rate of its storage and retrieval. From this evidence, it appears that the chlorine chemistry above 30 kilometers is close to being understood in current stratospheric models. Models based on this chemistry and measured reaction rates predict a reduction in the total stratospheric ozone content in the range of 3 to 5 percent in the final steady state for an otherwise unperturbed atmosphere, although the percentage decrease in the upper stratosphere is much higher.