Overview of the Ozone Depletion Theory Website

Home A brief overview of ozone depletion theory. Tips on using this website.

The Bottom Line A summary of the principal conclusions reached on this wedsite.

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The Primary Problem with Greenhouse Gas Theory Current models overestimate the energy absorbed by greenhouse gases and underestimate the energy reaching Earth when ozone is depleted because they assume that electromagnetic radiation is a wave rather than a field.

Three Enigmas This research was propelled by trying to understand three enigmas: 1) How can volcanic eruptions cause both global cooling and be contemporaneous with the greatest rates of global warming observed in the past 25,000 years? 2) How can layers of gas in the atmosphere that are colder than Earth cause warming of Earth? 3) Is the photon a physical reality or is it just a very useful mathematical concept for a packet of energy extracted by a molecule from an electromagnetic field of radiation?

How Scientists Work Scientists ultimately adapt their theories to fit new and improved data.

Follow the Energy The energy of electromagnetic radiation is simply a function of frequency, not bandwidth. The amount of energy absorbed by ozone is 48 times the energy typically absorbed by carbon dioxide. The peak spectral radiance received from the sun is 69 times the peak spectral radiance received from Earth. Radiant energy in the ultraviolet causing photodissociation is converted very efficiently to air temperature while only a fraction of the radiant energy absorbed by carbon dioxide is converted to translational kinetic energy and thus to the temperature of air.

The Primary Cause of Warming The amount of ozone primarily in the lower stratosphere determines at what altitude solar warming of the atmosphere begins — the altitude of the tropopause — and how much thermal energy is released in the stratosphere versus how much reaches Earth — the amount of global warming. Ozone exists in the atmosphere within a very delicate equilibrium. Short-term changes affect weather; long-term changes affect climate.

A Very Dynamic Tropopause The tropopause is the most dynamic boundary in Earth’s atmosphere. It is the boundary between air heated in a spatially varying way from below by a sun-warmed Earth, causing considerable turbulence, and air heated evenly from above by solar-energy-driven photochemical processes causing broad horizontal stratification. The height of the tropopause is closely related to the amount of total column ozone and varies rapidly over small regions. These variations show a close relationship with weather.

Volcanoes and Climate Large explosive volcanic eruptions that erupt megatons of sulfur dioxide into the lower stratosphere have been observed, throughout human history, to cause global cooling of up to 0.6oC for up to 3 years. Voluminous effusive eruptions that do not explode large volumes of gases into the lower stratosphere but extrude large amounts of basalt on the surface for years to hundreds-of-thousands of years have been contemporaneous with major global warming of many degrees centigrade during eruptive periods throughout both human and geologic history.

Ozone Distribution The greatest concentrations of ozone occur in the winter-spring in the Arctic. The second greatest occur in the winter-spring in the Antarctic. It is these accumulations of ozone that have been depleted the most by anthropogenic chlorofluorocarbons. Most ozone is in the lower stratosphere at altitudes of 20 to 30 km. Total column ozone above any point on Earth varies rapidly and constantly.

Ozone Depletion Large, explosive volcanic eruptions are well known to form sulphuric acid aerosols in the lower stratosphere that reflect, scatter, and absorb solar radiation, causing cooling at Earth’s surface of up to 0.6oC over three years. These explosive eruptions also deplete ozone causing warming that lasts 3 to 5 times longer than the aerosols, but the cooling effects of the aerosol predominate during the first three years except in winter/spring over northern continents when ozone depletion is particularly strong. The much less explosive and much more numerous basaltic effusive eruptions such as Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn as well as quiescently degassing volcanoes, do not form significant aerosols in the lower stratosphere so that ozone depletion and related warming dominate.

The Greatest Warming The greatest rates of warming observed since the 1950s have been located in Polar Regions during winter/spring when and where total column ozone has been most depleted.

Climate Trends Trends of the physical properties and chemical compositions of the atmosphere since 1925 suggest that increases in pollutants and greenhouse gases do not appear to influence global warming as much as ozone depletion does.

Warming & Drought in 2012 Substantial depletion of ozone during 2011 and 2012 in mid-to-polar latitudes over North America appears to be contemporaneous and co-located with both warming and drought in North America.

Pre-eruption Ozone Just as magma started moving towards the surface under Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland nearly 3 months before the eruption in 2010, a plume of ozone, with concentrations 40% above background amounts, appeared above and northeast of the volcano. A similar, but less well documented plume rose north of Pinatubo volcano weeks before it erupted. The mechanism is not clear.

Abrupt Climate Change Over the past 120,000 years, effusive, basaltic volcanism in Iceland peaked during the 25 Dansgaard-Oeschger sudden warmings. Effusive basaltic volcanism provides the clearest explanation for the wide variety of data associated with abrupt climate change.

Greenhouse Gases: A Brief History The physics behind greenhouse-gas theory was seriously questioned in 1900 and has never been adequately tested.

Greenhouse Gases: Theoretical problems Greenhouse-gas theory is based on at least 7 assumptions that do not appear to be physically correct. These could be tested in the laboratory, but have not.

Greenhouse Gases: Observational problems There are many observations questioning greenhouse-gas theory.

Ice Ages Large explosive volcanic eruptions occurring only decades apart tend to increment the world into an ice age while numerous effusive, basaltic, volcanic eruptions lasting for a thousand years appear sufficient to warm the Earth out of an ice age. Explosive eruptions reduce the heat content of the ocean, effusive eruptions increase it.

What is Radiation? The physics of radiation is distinctly different in space, in gases, and in matter. It is most productive to think in terms of field-particle-wave triality: radiation forms an energy field in space, exchanges energy with particles of matter making up a gas in a particle-like manner, and propagates as waves when interacting with extended matter through reflection, refraction, diffraction, polarization, dispersion, etc.

What to do now? Actions society should consider.

What went wrong? Science has a history. Assumptions that seemed logical in the 19th century, were not sufficiently questioned as new data became available.

DISCUSSION Join discussion of the science presented on this website.

Publications It has been difficult getting papers questioning greenhouse-gas theory reviewed.

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Last updated on September 25th, 2021,    © 2023 Peter L. Ward. All Rights Reserved