Role of the Stratospheric Polar Freezing Belt in Denitrification

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Science  30 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5513, pp. 2591-2594
DOI: 10.1126/science.1057228

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Homogeneous freezing of nitric acid hydrate particles can produce a polar freezing belt in either hemisphere that can cause denitrification. Computed denitrification profiles for one Antarctic and two Arctic cold winters are presented. The vertical range over which denitrification occurs is normally quite deep in the Antarctic but limited in the Arctic. A 4 kelvin decrease in the temperature of the Arctic stratosphere due to anthropogenic and/or natural effects can trigger the occurrence of widespread severe denitrification. Ozone loss is amplified in a denitrified stratosphere, so the effects of falling temperatures in promoting denitrification must be considered in assessment studies of ozone recovery trends.

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