The Seasonal Evolution of Reactive Chlorine in the Northern Hemisphere Stratosphere

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Science  27 Aug 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5125, pp. 1134-1136
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5125.1134


In situ measurements of chlorine monoxide (ClO) at mid- and high northern latitudes are reported for the period October 1991 to February 1992. As early as mid-December and throughout the winter, significant enhancements of this ozone-destroying radical were observed within the polar vortex shortly after temperatures dropped below 195 k. Decreases in ClO observed in February were consistent with the rapid formation of chlorine nitrate (ClONO2) by recombination of ClO with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) released photochemically from nitric acid (HNO3). Outside the vortex, ClO abundances were higher than in previous years as a result of NOx suppression by heterogeneous reactions on sulfate aerosols enhanced by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.