Arctic Ozone Loss Due to Denitrification

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Science  26 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5410, pp. 2064-2069
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5410.2064

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Measurements from the winter of 1994–95 indicating removal of total reactive nitrogen from the Arctic stratosphere by particle sedimentation were used to constrain a microphysical model. The model suggests that denitrification is caused predominantly by nitric acid trihydrate particles in small number densities. The denitrification is shown to increase Arctic ozone loss substantially. Sensitivity studies indicate that the Arctic stratosphere is currently at a threshold of denitrification. This implies that future stratospheric cooling, induced by an increase in the anthropogenic carbon dioxide burden, is likely to enhance denitrification and to delay until late in the next century the return of Arctic stratospheric ozone to preindustrial values.

  • * Present address: Lufthansa Systems, FRA4E/DCS, Hugo-Eckner-Ring, D-60549 Frankfurt, Germany.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. Present address: Institute for Atmospheric Sciences, ETH Zürich, HPP Hönggerberg, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail: thomas.peter{at}

  • Present address: Environment Centre, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.

  • § Present address: Institut für Wasserchemie, TU München, Marchioninistraβe 17, D-81377 München, Germany.

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