Jamal Munshi: An Empirical test of the chemical theory of ozone depletion

Posted: February 3, 2016 by tallbloke in Analysis, Dataset, ozone

My thanks to talkshop reader Jamal Munshi for alerting me to his paper on ozone and aerosols. It makes a strong case for viewing the ozone level above the Antarctic as a special case due to its unique geography, calling into question conclusions about human emissions drawn by scientists and acted on by the Montreal protocol. This is important as this agreement has been used as a template for ‘climate action’ subsequently.


The overall structure of changes in total column ozone levels over a 50-year sample period from 1966 to 2015 and across a range of latitudes from -90o to +71o shows that the data from Antarctica prior to 1995 represent a peculiar outlier condition specific to that time and place and not an enduring global pattern. The finding is inconsistent with the RowlandMolina theory of chemical ozone depletion. 1 1.


In 1971, renown environmentalist James Lovelock studied the unrestricted release of halogenated hydrocarbons (HHC) into the atmosphere from their use as aerosol dispensers, fumigants, pesticides, and refrigerants. He was concerned that (1) these chemicals were man-made and they did not otherwise occur in nature and that (2) they were chemically inert and that therefore their atmospheric release could cause irreversible accumulation. In a landmark 1973 paper by Lovelock, Maggs, and Wade he presented the discovery that air samples above the Atlantic ocean far from human habitation contained measurable quantities of HHC (Lovelock, Halogenated hydrocarbons in and over the Atlantic, 1973). It established for the first time that environmental issues could be framed on a planetary scale and it served as the first of three key events that eventually led to the Montreal Protocol and its worldwide ban on the production, sale, and atmospheric release of HHC (UNEP, 2000).



Total column ozone data for each calendar month3 from twelve ground stations in a large range of latitudes are studied in a fifty-year sample period4 from 1966-2015. The study period is divided into ten Lustra. The average seasonal cycle within each Lustrum and the trends for each calendar month from Lustrum to Lustrum are compared across the range of latitudes from -90o to +71o in the sample period. The overall structure of changes in total column ozone in time and across latitudes shows that the data from the two stations in Antarctica prior to 1995 are unique and specific to that time and place. They cannot be generalized into a global pattern of ozone depletion. The findings imply that declining levels of total column ozone in Antarctica during the months of October and November prior to 1995 do not serve as empirical evidence that can be taken as validation of the Rowland-Molina theory of chemical ozone depletion.

The chemical theory implies ozone depletion across a greater range of latitudes and over a much longer period of time than what was found in the data. It is far more likely that the historical decline of total column ozone in the South Pole during the months of October and November are related to natural cycles in atmospheric circulation patterns that transport ozone from the tropics to the South Pole. All data and computational details used in this study are available in the online data archive for this paper (Munshi, Ozone paper data archive, 2016).

Full paper

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘a strong case for viewing the ozone level above the Antarctic as a special case due to its unique geography’

    Along the same lines, Erl Happ notes:
    ‘The southern hemisphere is in fact, due to the relative deficiency of ozone, much less protected from short wave radiation than is the northern hemisphere, a curiosity that needs to be accounted for.’

  2. ren says:

    Let’s look at ionization ozone.

  3. ren says:

    Click and compare the change.

  4. http://joannenova.com.au/2015/01/is-the-sun-driving-ozone-and-changing-the-climate/

    My observation is that since there is a reverse sign effect of solar variability above 45km ( in the mesosphere) and since mesosphere air descends into the stratosphere above the poles via the polar vortices (not the circumpolar vortex) the ozone depletion above the poles during the time of active sun was solar induced and not anthropogenic.

    It is now recovering at a time of quiet sun.

    Erl is working along the right lines but doesn’t yet accept the reverse sign effect above 45km noted by Jo Haigh for the period 2004 to 2007. I haven’t seen that data updated since 2007.

  5. erl happ says:

    Looks like the application of common sense in this work. If ozone is depleted at the southern pole the depletion should be a lot more widespread than is observed if only because, as Google has demonstrated with their Project Loon, the stratosphere has vigorous winds, and tends to be well mixed across the latitudes. When one looks at the data for the temperature of the stratosphere (due primarily to absorption of long wave radiation from the Earth) one sees the largest variations over the pole at 10hPa and these variations diminish with altitude and latitude.

    Thanks for the reminder Oldbrew. Yes its a unique geography with a centrally located ice mound that attains a planetary peak in surface PRESSURE in winter giving rise to a strong flow of chemically erosive mesospheric air inside the polar vortex. In summer the situation is very different because surface pressure falls right away and the downwards circulation stalls…the atmosphere at 10hPa over the pole spins in the opposite direction and the entire column experiences very little variation in temperature. If at any time outside summer there is a temporary shift to the summer pattern of low surface pressure there occurs a marked warming of the stratosphere, whatever the time of the year.

    The Antarctic stratosphere has warmed over the years most strongly in October indicating an increase in the ozone content of the air in all parts other than inside the vortex of cold mesospheric air that is in part enhanced due to the uplift that occurs due to the enhancement of ozone partial pressure. Outside we see the donut……inside the donut we see the hole. You can look at the hole and say Oh Me Oh My. Or you can look at the donut and see climate change in action including a loss of cloud cover in the mid latitudes.

    Or if you work for the IPCC you can look at the hole and say that we’ll all be runed.

  6. erl happ says:

    Stephen, tell me more about this reverse sign affect that I am not accepting.

  7. ren says:

    The polar vortex over Great Britain.
    Polar stratospheric clouds form at very high altitudes, between 15km and 25km (about 50,000 to 80,000 feet) and at very cold temperatures (around -78 deg C).


  8. oldbrew says:

    Re: ‘The southern hemisphere is in fact, due to the relative deficiency of ozone, much less protected from short wave radiation than is the northern hemisphere, a curiosity that needs to be accounted for.’ – Erl Happ

    One theory says the decline in the Earth’s magnetic field strength has accelerated in the southern hemisphere.
    An obvious difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic is the magnetic polarity.
    Cosmic ray strength may be greater in the Antarctic.

  9. ren says:

    Very low temperature (about -70 C) causes a decrease of ozone, which can be seen above the equator.

  10. ren says:

    It follows that, in the tropopause ozone is not formed due to the lack of energy.

  11. ren says:

    Film about changes in the magnetic field.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Marusek (2005) says:
    ‘Cosmic ray production of nitric oxide in the atmosphere leaves behind a chemical signature, which is visible in ice core records.’

    ‘One would expect the highest concentration of nitric oxide production to occur at the magnetic pole because at this location the field in general has only a vertical component. And indeed that is the case. ISCAT & NCAR scientists observed atmospheric nitric oxide levels at the South Pole that are 10 times higher than in other areas of Antarctica. The levels at the South Pole exceeded 550 parts per trillion by volume of air (pptv). This would help to explain why the ozone holes appear in the Polar Regions over Antarctic and the Arctic.’
    [bold added]

  13. ren says:

    Solar activity has a profound effect on the temperature in the stratosphere.

  14. ren says:

    The temperature in the lower stratosphere over Great Britain falls below -75 degrees C.

  15. ren says:

    Temperature ozone over America increase because it absorbs the most energy ionizing radiation.

  16. ren says:

    In the stratosphere is visible sudden jump in temperature.

  17. ren says:

    This shows animation.

  18. ren says:

    For comparison, a sudden increase in the temperature of the stratosphere in 2009 with a minimum of solar activity.

  19. erl happ says:

    Ren, we need words to go with the pictures. Give us a coherent story.

  20. ren says:

    Erl ozone is low and low temperature in the stratosphere this year. In January, there is a strong decrease in solar activity (increase in GCR). Now we have a sudden increase in temperature in the stratosphere (it is now close to the average).

  21. ren says:

    Erl first signal of rising temperature in the stratosphere appeared in mid-January at an altitude of 45 km.


  22. ren says:

    “A minimum atmospheric temperature, or tropopause, occurs at a pressure of around 0.1 bar in the atmospheres of Earth1, Titan2, Jupiter3, Saturn4, Uranus and Neptune4, despite great differences in atmospheric composition, gravity, internal heat and sunlight. In all of these bodies, the tropopause separates a stratosphere with a temperature profile that is controlled by the absorption of short-wave solar radiation, from a region below characterized by convection, weather and clouds5, 6. However, it is not obvious why the tropopause occurs at the specific pressure near 0.1 bar. Here we use a simple, physically based model7 to demonstrate that, at atmospheric pressures lower than 0.1 bar, transparency to thermal radiation allows short-wave heating to dominate, creating a stratosphere. At higher pressures, atmospheres become opaque to thermal radiation, causing temperatures to increase with depth and convection to ensue. A common dependence of infrared opacity on pressure, arising from the shared physics of molecular absorption, sets the 0.1 bar tropopause. We reason that a tropopause at a pressure of approximately 0.1 bar is characteristic of many thick atmospheres, including exoplanets and exomoons in our galaxy and beyond. Judicious use of this rule could help constrain the atmospheric structure, and thus the surface environments and habitability, of exoplanets.”


  23. ren says:

    In the case of low solar activity are very important changes in the Earth’s magnetic field because reaches galactic radiation close to the Earth and affects the state of ozone.

  24. ren says:

    “Observations of surface radiation and stratospheric processes
    at Thule Air Base, Greenland, during the IPY
    Giovanni Muscari1,*, Claudia Di Biagio2,3,7, Alcide di Sarra2, Marco Cacciani4,
    Svend Erik Ascanius5, Pietro Paolo Bertagnolio1,3, Claudio Cesaroni1,4, Robert L. de Zafra6,
    Paul Eriksen5, Giorgio Fiocco4, Irene Fiorucci1, Daniele Fuà4
    1 Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy
    2 ENEA, Laboratory for Earth Observations and Analyses, Santa Maria di Galeria, Italy
    3 Università di Siena, Dipartimento Scienze fisiche, della Terra e dell’ambiente, Siena, Italy
    4 La Sapienza – Università di Roma, Dipartimento di Fisica, Rome, Italy
    5 Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
    6 State University of New York, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook, NY, USA
    7 Now at LISA, UMR CNRS 7583, Universités Paris Est Créteil et Paris Diderot, Institut P.S. Laplace, Créteil, France
    Ground-based measurements of atmospheric parameters have been carried
    out for more than 20 years at the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric
    Composition Change (NDACC) station at Thule Air Base
    (76.5°N, 68.8°W), on the north-western coast of Greenland. Various instruments
    dedicated to the study of the lower and middle polar atmosphere
    are installed at Thule in the framework of a long standing
    collaboration among Danish, Italian, and US research institutes and universities.
    This effort aims at monitoring the composition, structure and
    dynamics of the polar stratosphere, and at studying the Arctic energy
    budget and the role played by different factors, such as aerosols, water
    vapour, and surface albedo. During the International Polar Year (IPY),
    in winter 2008-2009, an intensive measurement campaign was conducted
    at Thule within the framework of the IPY project “Ozone layer and UV
    radiation in a changing climate evaluated during IPY” (ORACLE-O3)
    which sought to improve our understanding of the complex mechanisms
    that lead to the Arctic stratospheric O3 depletion. The campaign involved
    a lidar system, measuring aerosol backscatter and depolarization ratios
    up to 35 km and atmospheric temperature profiles from 25 to 70 km altitude,
    a ground-based millimeter-wave spectrometer (GBMS) used to derive
    stratospheric mixing ratio profiles of different chemical species
    involved in the stratospheric ozone depletion cycle, and then ground-based
    radiometers and a Cimel sunphotometer to study the Arctic radiative
    budget at the surface. The observations show that the surface radiation
    budget is mainly regulated by the longwave component throughout most
    of the year. Clouds have a significant impact contributing to enhance the
    role of longwave radiation. Besides clouds, water vapour seasonal changes
    produce the largest modification in the shortwave component at the surface,
    followed by changes in surface albedo and in aerosol amounts. For
    what concerns the middle atmosphere, during the first part of winter
    2008-2009 the cold polar vortex allowed for the formation of polar stratospheric
    clouds (PSCs) which were observed above Thule by means of the
    lidar. This period was also characterized by GBMS measurements of low
    values of O3 due to the catalytic reactions prompted by the PSCs. In midJanuary,
    as the most intense Sudden Stratospheric Warming event ever
    observed in the Arctic occurred, GBMS and lidar measurements of O3
    ,N2O, CO and temperature described its evolution as it propagated from
    the upper atmosphere to the lower stratosphere.”

  25. erl happ says:

    Ren, in relation to the article that begins: A minimum atmospheric temperature, or tropopause, occurs at a pressure of around 0.1 bar in the atmospheres of Earth1, Titan2, Jupiter3, Saturn4, Uranus and Neptune4, despite great differences in atmospheric composition, gravity, internal heat and sunlight.

    That document reveals that the authors are not good observers of reality.
    Winter time, no sun, no short wave radiation…..where is the tropopause?

    The rule that these researchers seem to be following is that a ‘tropopause’ is the coldest point in the atmospheric column. Well, if they had a good look at Earth’s atmosphere they would see the cold point over the Antarctic pole at 300hPa in summer and 30hPa in winter. See the fourth last diagram in this presentation. https://reality348.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/4-the-geography-of-the-stratosphere-mk2/

    I have one issue with Munshi’s paper and it is this comment:

    These data do not indicate that ozone depletion observed in Antarctica from 1975 to 1985 (Farman, 1985) can be generalized as a global chemical phenomenon (Molina, 1974) (UNEP, 2000). It is more likely that the unique and peculiar changes in atmospheric ozone observed at AMS (South Pole) and HLB (Halley Bay) reflect changes in the ability of atmospheric circulations to transport ozone from the tropics to the South Pole (Kozubek, 2012) (Tegtmeier, 2008) (Weber, 2011).

    The circulation that they are talking about is the so called Brewer Dobson circulation supposed to transport ozone from the equator to the poles. But, if you look at the circulation at the poles you see ozone being uplifted from the 30hPa level and mesospheric air descending within the vortex.

    In any case it is not possible for ozone to travel from the equator at a different velocity within a parcel of air than any other particle within that parcel of air. At destination the concentration is likely, all other factors being equal, to be the same as at source. The real reason for the enhanced concentration of ozone at the winter pole is the length of the atmospheric path through which the photolyzing UVB that destroys ozone must pass and its consequent exhaustion in the process.

    In the 1950s when the Brewer Dobson circulation was proposed as the reason for ozone enhancement in the winter hemisphere no Dobsonmeter had found its way to the Antarctic. When it did in 1956, big surprise…..ozone hole. Completely new to observers of the northern hemisphere. Dobson doubted the figure until it was confirmed in the following year. And this before the widespread use of chlorofluorocarbons in domestic refrigeration.

    Munshis paper publishes figures for Total Column Ozone for Perth, Western Australia and Lauder New Zealand.Here again Dobson would have been surprised to see an ozone enhancement in September-October at precisely the same time as it is depleted over Antarctica. This is due to the length of the atmospheric path that depletes UVB in winter. The zone of enhanced ozone values surrounds Antarctica between 30 and 60 degrees of latitude. This is what I call the donut. The hole lies within. This in itself disqualifies the Brewer Dobson hypothesis as well as the man made ozone depletion argument.

  26. ren says:

    Visible are large energy losses in the stratosphere and the thermosphere due to the decrease of solar photons.

  27. Brett Keane says:

    Ah, yes, once again on this blog we see inter galactic (almost) proof of the zombie status of AGW; and of the silly Montreal Protocol. Thankyou Ren ( and how is the weather on the Polish Riviera just now?), and Erl (us donut-dwellers sometimes feel we are on the ringworld system. eh?).

  28. Erl asks:

    “Stephen, tell me more about this reverse sign affect that I am not accepting”.


    The solar induced reverse sign effect on ozone above 45km is described in my link and in our exchange of ideas some years ago you did not then seem accept it as a relevant factor.

    What are your thoughts on it now?

  29. ren says:

    Brett Keane “how is the weather on the Polish Riviera just now?”

  30. ren says:

    Brett Keane better to see Scandinavian temple in Karpacz.

  31. Brett Keane says:

    Thanks Ren. I guess that getting a suntan there is now out of the question. Keep up the good work!