I’ve produced an update to the below post here as of 30 Sept. 2017:  The Ozone Holes from Naturally Circulating Atmospheric Halides.

In my ongoing comparisons of QG circulation patterns with various atmospheric phenomena, I include ozone in the stratosphere.  The featured image is an example from http://www.theozonehole.com/ozoneholehistory.htm  which links to the European Space Agency (ESA) site at http://www.esa-ozone-cci.org/

These animations will soon be paired against my own equivalent animation for geopotential height for full atmosphere Z, from the ERA Interim data set.  I will only do this to compare without expectations.

Sources I have reviewed appear to agree that the primary cause of ozone polar variations are stratospheric chlorine Cl, in the Spring (boreal for north pole, autralis for south pole).   Chlorine molecules circulate to and concentrate around the stratospheric polar regions.  In the case of Antarctica, the Cl is replenished continually by the nearly infinite natural reservoir from the Southern Ocean.  The Cl around the stratospheric South Pole is guided in this annular configuration via the QG circulatory patterns that I often describe in posts at this site.  The stratospheric Cl ions are released from the molecular chlorine by the emerging Spring solar UV.

Those ions are attributed to catalyze ozone destruction so long as they remain in the upper atmosphere.  Via QG principals, I’m inclined to believe that the multi decadal residence times that some assign to stratospheric Cl are not defendable.  Rather, it seems likely that residence times of Cl from a QG standpoint are no longer than the residence times of any QG atmospheric parcel.  Such residence times are discussed in past posts of mine and in this paper in review.  Accordingly my preceding paragraph describes a circulation pattern in which Cl is continually replenished.

As opposed to the popular notion regarding CFCs as the primary force multiplier for ozone patterns, this more natural and QG based description appears consistent with data and at least some published sources.  In that consistent view, as circulation varies over the Antarctic for example, ozone patterns in the polar stratosphere would be impacted.

The superceding popular representations appear to assign a higher weight to CFCs as a persistent force multiplier of ozone production.  However, the logic seems to assert that CFCs themselves are destroyed in the creation of ozone, so persistence of CFC-produced Cl (the true catalyst) would be no greater than the persistence of natural Cl.

Other examples include the image below which is scanned from a contemporary college level undergraduate chemistry textbook [1].  The caption for that image implies that the lower concentrations of ozone over the Antarctic”.. reveal a startling decline in Antarctic ozone levels.”  However no attempts were made to correlate the patterns with natural circulations.


The QG connections in some form or another appear to be implicitly understood by subject matter experts.  For example, a sample WMO ozone monitoring report [2] describes a polar circulation regime (polar vortex in this case) that transports Cl towards the so called hole.  As I review that and others, I wonder if the zonal band of relatively high stratospheric O3 which approximately conforms to the south polar vortex has a name.  The “ozone hole” terminology doesn’t appear to capture the more zonal band-like nature of the actual distributions to my eye, but I am still on a learning curve.

The WMO report also describes the chemistry consistently to the textbook derived description above.  Perhaps most important, in the 75 page report purely focused on ozone distributions and causes, there appears to be no mention of CFCs or of the term “anthropogenic”.

Could it be that subject matter experts on ozone have roughly adopted the outline above and have long ago dismissed the theory of CFC – driven ozone hole formation?  If that is the case, this would be good information for all of them to raise awareness of.  The WMO and other documents appear to confirm this primary circulation connection and even causation.  But the attribution of anthropogenic forcings to eclipse this, endures [3].

The QG connection might in any case lend to the capacity to more accurately forecast ozone patterns in the future, regardless of how CFCs are addressed.


[1].  See Figure 5.28 on p. 220 of Nivaldo J. Tro  2011.  CHEMISTRY  A MOLECULAR APPROACH.  Prentice Hall

[2]. WMO Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project Report No. 49 An Overview of the 2005 Antarctic Ozone Hole Prepared by Geir O. Braathen WMO TD No. 1312 WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION

[3]. for example      http://www.bendbulletin.com/sciencetech/5409884-151/a-chemical-could-delay-ozone-healing.  This contemporary article appears to support my current representations on CFC causation assertions.