• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

Extensive halogen-mediated ozone destruction over the tropical Atlantic Ocean

Nature Geoscience (2008)
Read K A et al
Doi: 10.1038/nature07035
Vol 453; pp. 1232-1235

Increasing tropospheric ozone levels over the past 150 years have led to a significant climate perturbation1; the prediction of future trends in tropospheric ozone will require a full understanding of both its precursor emissions and its destruction processes. A large proportion of tropospheric ozone loss occurs in the tropical marine boundary layer2, 3 and is thought to be driven primarily by high ozone photolysis rates in the presence of high concentrations of water vapour. A further reduction in the tropospheric ozone burden through bromine and iodine emitted from open-ocean marine sources has been postulated by numerical models4, 5, 6, 7, but thus far has not been verified by observations. Here we report eight months of spectroscopic measurements at the Cape Verde Observatory indicative of the ubiquitous daytime presence of bromine monoxide and iodine monoxide in the tropical marine boundary layer. A year-round data set of co-located in situ surface trace gas measurements made in conjunction with low-level aircraft observations shows that the mean daily observed ozone loss is 50 per cent greater than that simulated by a global chemistry model using a classical photochemistry scheme that excludes halogen chemistry. We perform box model calculations that indicate that the observed halogen concentrations induce the extra ozone loss required for the models to match observations. Our results show that halogen chemistry has a significant and extensive influence on photochemical ozone loss in the tropical Atlantic Ocean boundary layer. The omission of halogen sources and their chemistry in atmospheric models may lead to significant errors in calculations of global ozone budgets, tropospheric oxidizing capacity and methane oxidation rates, both historically and in the future.

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