What is the lesson from the unprecedented event over antarctica in 2002

Letters to the Editor


Varotsos (2002a,b), suggested that both the smaller-sized ozone hole over Antarctica and its splitting in two holes in September 2002 occurred due to an unprecedented major sudden stratospheric warming caused by very strong planetary waves propagated in the southern hemisphere. Subsequently, a NASA press release of December 6, 2002, also reported the prevalence of very strong planetary waves in Antarctica.

The aim of this Letter is to further discuss the morphology of the Antarctic ozone hole, to detect the causes that allowed the Antarctic stratosphere to exhibit this exceptional warming and to examine what it denotes about its mechanisms.

Concerning the morphology, among the principal findings is that the ozone hole split occurred not only in the stratosphere but extended in the lower altitudes (upper troposphere).

As to the causes of the major sudden stratospheric warming of 2002, a comparison with the previous warmings in Antarctica since 1964 is made. The smaller-sized Antarctic ozone hole of 2002 is approximately equal to that of 1988 when a strong sudden stratospheric warming occurred. If only the destruction of ozone by chlorofluorocarbons resulted in the delayed sudden stratospheric warmings in Antarctica, then the early sudden stratospheric warmings of 1988 and 2002 would not have occurred, since chlorofluorocarbon loading of the stratosphere has remained relatively stable in recent years. Furthermore, it appears that the El Nino characteristics in 1988 and 2002 are not similar.


Ozone hole planetary waves polar vortex 


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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied PhysicsUniversity of AthensAthensGreece

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