Marine Scientists and the research vessel SONNE from Kiel are part of an
international measuring campaign in the South China Sea –
November 4, 2011/Kiel. Despite the existence of international
treaties on the protection of the ozone layer it is only slowly
recovering. As the role of natural trace gases for the decomposition of
the ozone layer is still unknown it’s hard to predict the future
development of the ozone hole. With an extensive field campaign in the
South China Sea scientists from Europe and Malaysia aim to examine those
processes more closely. A fundamental part of the campaign will be
measurements at the transition zone between the ocean and the
atmosphere. Those measurements will be carried out by meteorologists and
oceanographers of the Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR)
with the German research vessel SONNE.
Earth’s atmosphere ozone is only present in minor concentrations.
However life on Earth’s would be impossible without it. This is due to
the ability of the ozone layer in the stratosphere to absorbe the
extremely harmful ultraviolet radiation from space. When in 1985 the
first hole in the ozone layer was discovered above the Antarctic the
reaction of the politicians was prompt: The protocol of Montreal that
entered into force in 1989 limits the emission of chlorofluorocarbons
which have an ozone-depleting effect. Nevertheless the ozone layer has
not fully recovered. This is partly due to the persistence of the ozone
depleting substances that have been released by humans a long time ago.
Besides this there are also natural sources for halogens that are able
to destroy the ozone layer. These include especially bromine and iodine
compounds produced by microorganisms and plants in the ocean. Those
substances reach the atmosphere through exchange processes between water
and air. Deep convections (strong upwelling of hot air) transport them
into the stratosphere and by this into the ozone layer. “We need to know
the amount of those ozone-depleting substances and to develop a better
understanding of the chemical processes and transport mechanisms
involved”, the chemical oceanographer Dr. Birgit Quack from the
Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany says.
“This is important to make reliable predictions about the future
development of the ozone layer”, adds the meteorologist Dr. Kirstin
Krüger. Dr. Quack and Dr. Krüger are the chief scientists of the
Expedition SO218 with the German research vessel SONNE. From the 15th to
the 29th of November 2011 the expedition will examine those processes
more closely in the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea off the coast of
Malaysia and the Philippines.
expedition is part of the EU research project SHIVA (Stratospheric
Ozone: Halogen Impacts in a Varying Atmosphere), in which researchers
from five European countries and Malaysia examine the natural causes of
ozone depletion. “In the coastal waters of Borneo and Malaysia there are
no measurements of halogens yet, even though we presume the existence of
strong sources for the atmosphere in this region”, Dr. Quack explains.
Furthermore deep convections, the most effective way of transportation
for trace gases to the stratosphere, are strong and very common in the
tropical western Pacific Ocean. “This is why the region is so
interesting for our purposes”, Dr. Krüger adds.
the framework of the SHIVA-measuring campaign the research aircraft
FALCON from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is stationed in Borneo.
This enables the researchers to get a full picture of the transportation
paths of the trace gases. The FALCON will concentrate on the examination
of atmospheric parameters that are of interest for the ongoing study.
Additionally the scientists will be able to use observations made by the
environmental satellite ENVISAT. By this the path ways of the relevant
trace gases can be followed from the South-East Asian coastal waters up
to the borders of the troposphere and the stratosphere at a height up to
the expedition we will try to gather an extensive observational data set
to be able to make quantitative and qualitative assumptions about the
amount of material transported, the transportation paths and the
chemical processes happening along them”, says Dr. Krüger. “At the
IFM-GEOMAR we have a long tradition measuring the exchange of trace
gases between the ocean and the atmosphere.” Thanks to the close
collaboration between the different research institutes and due to the
connection of different measuring platforms, such as vessel, aircraft
and satellite, the chance to understand the problem of the global ozone
depletion has arrived. “We are eagerly interested for the results”,
Chief Scientist Dr. Quack says.
measuring campaign in the South China Sea is part of the project SHIVA
(Stratospheric Ozone: Halogen Impacts in a Varying Atmosphere) which is
sponsored by the EU. In the project scientists from Belgium, Germany,
France, Great Britain, Norway and Malaysia examine the development and
the paths of ozone-depleting gasses. The project is coordinated by Prof.
Dr. Klaus Pfeilsticker von der Universität Heidelberg
The project SHIVA
Overview of the expedition SO218 and recent reports from the vessel
Press release of the University of Heidelberg
Presserelease of the German Aircraft Center (DLR)
The research vessel SONNE during the expedition
The research aircraft FALCON from the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
examines the atmospheric parameters that are of interest for the study
Map of the area the study is focussing on
Dr. Kirstin Krüger (Maritime Meteorologie, IFM-GEOMAR), phone +49 431
600 4062, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Birgit Quack (Chemische Ozeanographie, IFM-GEOMAR), phone +49 431
600 4206, email@example.com
Jan Steffen (Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, IFM-GEOMAR), Tel. +49 431 600-2811,