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  1. And almost as a respectful followup, the draft report of assembled ozone studies by the EPA, details tremendous damage caused by tropospheric ozone. Ruling expected soon.
    http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/WebCASAC/F78DE0955261C9F4852579950054B26E?OpenDocument

    Comment by richard pauli — 13 Mar 2012 @ 9:59 PM

  2. His name is spelled Rowland.

    [Response: oh my. yes. - gavin]

    Comment by Manning — 13 Mar 2012 @ 11:04 PM

  3. Regarding work with CFCs it is important to also mention another truly great scientist, Royal Society member James Lovelock of the UK. From Wikipedia: “After the development of his electron capture detector, in the late 1960s, Lovelock was the first to detect the widespread presence of CFCs in the atmosphere.”

    Lovelock is also a wonderful human being, in addition being a brilliant scientist and inventor. He is the originator of the Gaia law showing earth is a self regulating entity. At least earth did self regulate, before man changed that seemingly miraculous system.

    Comment by William P — 14 Mar 2012 @ 1:19 AM

  4. There appears to be a typo where you said “he was now only a great scientist”. Replace “now” with “not”?

    [Response:oops. thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by Dave Werth — 14 Mar 2012 @ 1:30 AM

  5. Thinking about the myth that the CO2 should sink to bottom of the atmosphere, I did a quick calculation. Assuming that the height of the atmosphere is 30,000 feet then there would be a layer of CO2 12 feet thick at the surface of the Earth which would smother us all!

    Obviously the height of the atmsophere is not 30,000 feet. Does anyone else have a better estimate for the depth of the layer of CO2 would be?

    BTW. Don’t panic! The CO2 would collect mostly over the oceans and anyone living above 3m asl will be safe :-)

    [Response:30,000 ft is probably good enough actually. scale hight of the atomsphere is about 10 km but the difference (very roughly) accounts for density.-eric]

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 14 Mar 2012 @ 6:38 AM

  6. Wonderful personal anecdote ! The Vega Science Trust has a 3/4hr video recorded back in 2006. Sherwood Rowland talks about ozone and also climate change.
    URL http://vega.org.uk/video/programme/118

    Comment by B Eggen — 14 Mar 2012 @ 7:53 AM

  7. We’ve undoubtedly lost one of the all-time greats of atmospheric chemistry.

    On the topic raised about denial, it is troubling how some people still actively buy into the ozone depletion denialism, in spite of the science standing the test of time and inaction not being an option any more. I’ve seen it used to try to discredit individuals working in climate who previously worked on the ozone issue (e.g. Sue Solomon) or to have a pop at tree hugging scientists in general (along the same lines as DDT denial). Further down the rabbit hole, they even use it as an example of *insert global conspiracy theory here*.

    Point being I think it we owe it to Rowland to make sure that his work isn’t forgotten or allowed to be distorted, even if the problem isn’t as in our face any more. It deserves to be placed on one hell of a pedestal because it is one of the great scientific triumphs of the 20th century.

    Comment by JamesA — 14 Mar 2012 @ 8:18 AM

  8. That’s a great quote from Rowland at the end, and I’m glad that you at Realclimate appreciated it.

    We might be moving into a different phase now. The failures of our media and government appear to be structural, and permanent. Scientists may not be temperamentally inclined to lead us, but, by default, may have to.

    Political activism among our brightest minds has a long history in this country. Before Rowland, we had Jefferson, Lincoln, and Einstein, deep thinkers all. Events drove them to the public sphere.

    Climate change is a far greater threat than King George or even Adolph Hitler. Scientists need to tap their creativity, and work from the heart. Your work on unraveling the mysteries of the atmosphere is ongoing, but the conclusions, and the needed actions, are clear. We need you for this fight, and some of you (Schneider was my inspiration) have awakened us for good. Let’s go forward, shoulder to shoulder, until we win. There is no other alternative.

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 14 Mar 2012 @ 8:53 AM

  9. How do you respond to the objection (which I’ve heard, to past use of the Rowland quote in my .sig) that in climate it’s projections, not predictions, so Rowland’s point is less applicable?

    [Response: Not relevant. All of the predictions for ozone depletion were contingent on scenarios of CFC emissions continuing to increase - which they would have done absent the Montreal protocol and amendments. Thus in IPCC-speak they were actually projections. The same thing is true of the climate issue. - gavin]

    (…besides to point out that “the uncertainty in climate projections associated with the physical climate model is smaller than the uncertainty associated with the models of emission scenarios that are used to project carbon dioxide emissions”)

    [Response: Why is this problematic? It says that we know less about economic development and technology in 2050 than we know about the response of the climate to CO2. I don't know anyone who would dispute this. But that isn't to say we know nothing about what CO2 trends will be like in the future - mainly because the inertia in our use of fossil fuels and the carbon cycle itself mean that our ability to strongly affect CO2 concentration pathways before around 2050 is limited. Obviously scenario uncertainty increases after that, but the only vaguely benign scenario that has been produced (RCP2.6) actually requires active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2080 or so and I'm not sure how likely that is. (Actually, I'm pretty sure it's very unlikely). - gavin]

    Also, a likely typo: “observations ran ahead of predictions”?

    And FYI, email bounces when sent to the Climate 101 “Report Problems” address (forecast-admin)
    (and for anyone else registering, a heads-up: “non-alphanumeric” means “non-alphanumeric”)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 14 Mar 2012 @ 2:08 PM

  10. Thanks for this touching post about Sherwood Roland – I will share it with my students. It’s sad that Rowland’s death coincides with a time when Canada is making drastic cuts to their ozone monitoring program, following a year when the depletion of Arctic ozone is reportedly the largest it has ever been. Indeed, what’s the use of having developed science, if all we’re willing to do is stand around…

    Comment by Karen Kohfeld — 14 Mar 2012 @ 2:27 PM

  11. The scariest thing I ever read about CFCs and the ozone layer is here:

    http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/05/our-lucky-ozone-escape

    It boils down to this: If bromine had been cheaper than chlorine, DuPont would have used it. The higher efficacy of bromine at ozone destruction, and the long lag time in reaching the stratosphere, means that if bromine had been cheaper, we’d likely have destroyed the ozone layer planet-wide before we’d gotten a handle on restricting halocarbon production. It’s not clear that society would have survived that.

    Not sure if all that is true — the bromine analogs of CFCs are heavier, for example — but it seems plausible.

    There’s no necessary relationship between cost and atomic weight within a column in the periodic table. In that sense, we were just lucky that the chance association of cost and atomic weight led to the use of the less destructive halogen. And so let us survive long enough for scientists to alert us to the danger.

    Comment by Christopher Hogan — 14 Mar 2012 @ 3:48 PM

  12. My condolences on the loss of a beloved colleague. From beyond the grave he is continuing to educate and inspire, at least me.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 14 Mar 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  13. > the bromine analogs of CFCs are heavier
    and comparably persistent?

    It’d be an interesting market study — has anyone described the reasons the choice was made at the time?

    —-
    “Business response in the United States … indicates that a world with limited use of CFCs will not be catastrophically expensive.”
    Cutting the Cost of Environmental Policy: Lessons from Business Response to CFC Regulation
    Daniel J. Dudek, Alice M. LeBlanc and Kenneth Sewall
    Ambio
    Vol. 19, No. 6/7, CFCs and Stratospheric Ozone (Oct., 1990), pp. 324-328

    Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4313727

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2012 @ 6:23 PM

  14. Rick Piltz has an excellent blog post related to this.

    Comment by gavin — 14 Mar 2012 @ 7:09 PM

  15. The item Gavin points out is almost too irritating to read when it comes to the denouement. Singer. Baliunas. CEI. “The road not traveled” and all that. Arrgh.

    Ironically named, that ATI. “Keeping the traditions alive.”

    Comment by dbostrom — 14 Mar 2012 @ 7:57 PM

  16. Alastair @5, Even if we had both no bulk air movement (no mixing via fluid flow), and started with all the CO2 as a layer at the surface, it wouldn’t stay there (that isn’t the minimum entropy state of the system). It would instead diffuse via random collisions, until each atmospheric constituent had a scale height inversely proportional to it’s molecular weight. A typical atmospheric scale height is 18,000 feet for halving the pressure (the scale height depends on temperature with varies with height so its gets messier). The scale height of CO2 would thus be 18,000*28/44 = 11500feet. I.E. it would be a bit more concentrated at the ground, but not so much. Of course diffusion is a random walk process, and diffusion across tens of thousands of feet would be an extremely slow process, it takes very little turbulence flow to overcome it.

    Comment by Thomas — 14 Mar 2012 @ 8:45 PM

  17. There is no time as now. Legacies are built on, Newton said it, on Rowland’s shoulders we see further. I am Canadian, proud from Montreal and the Arctic, being there in the building exactly when the protocol was being negotiated. It was a legendary moment in humanity, when people from all stripes and everywhere were united for Earth. The 1987 protocol was done in a small uncontroversial way, pretty much as insignificant as ozone concentration itself. I must tell again ozone is a trace gas, for those who openly refuse to understand the implications of a trace gas; Ozone has huge importance over climate, even meteorological mechanics not even thought about, to be revealed (one paper awaits). Check out one idea which i tossed out at my blog in progress http://eh2r.blogspot.com/

    Thank You Sherwood Rowland 12 feet 9 inches high by you.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 14 Mar 2012 @ 9:41 PM

  18. Supposing CO2 stayed at the bottom of the atmosphere, what would the warming effect be?

    [Response: Zero. The GHE only works if there is a temperature differential between the surface and the atmospheric emitter. - gavin]

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 15 Mar 2012 @ 8:11 AM

  19. Mike Mann will be performing a public duty at noon on the east coast by joining the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU to discuss the efforts of the rouge Virginia Attorney General. The program is streamed http://wamu.org/

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Mar 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  20. “aerosol sprays do not cause global warming”

    Maybe not the aerosols, but most propellants (CFCs in the olden days; alkanes, N2O, and HFCs for medical aerosols today) have decently large GWPs. On the other hand, they do constitute a pretty small fraction of total GHG emissions, so your statement is correct in the sense that “contribute to global warming” would be more accurate than “cause global warming.”

    [Response: You would be surprised how many people think that not using aerosol cans are the main issue in global warning. The 'contribution' you mention is, I agree, non-zero, but frankly it is completely irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, so the correct phrasing might be better as "aerosol spray propellents are only very minor contributors to global warming". - gavin]

    Comment by Jonathan Gilligan — 15 Mar 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  21. #18–”The GHE only works if there is a temperature differential between the surface and the atmospheric emitter. – gavin

    “…because if there weren’t, radiational efficacy would not differ much between surface and emitter, either.”

    Correct, more or less?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Mar 2012 @ 11:06 AM

  22. Gavin: Thanks for the clarification on people thinking aerosol propellants are a significant or even dominant factor. Wow!

    If you happen to have a citation handy to any survey or study reporting the prevalence of this belief, it would be useful because I am collecting instances of mistaken beliefs and their effects on misdirecting people’s actions on GHG mitigation.

    Comment by Jonathan Gilligan — 15 Mar 2012 @ 3:40 PM

  23. Sherry was a graceful man, a wonderful fellow. He carried himself with the mix of assurance and humility that made him utterly believable. And if you think about it, he really has about as good a claim as anyone who ever lived to having “saved the planet.”

    Comment by bill mckibben — 15 Mar 2012 @ 9:34 PM

  24. I am not sure if this is the right place to post questions, so please excuse me if I should have posted the following query elsewhere.

    My radiocarbon question: Are there records (publicly accessible via the internet) of atmospheric 14C going up to the present? If not, where could I request such information?

    I am aware of records going up to 1996 but nothing more recent.
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/cent-verm.html 1959 – 1983
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/cent-scha.html 1976 – 1996

    Many thanks for any help.

    Comment by Martin A — 16 Mar 2012 @ 2:35 AM

  25. Martin (#23)

    There are some measurements up to 2002 here: http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/epubs/ndp/ndp057/ndp057.htm

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Mar 2012 @ 7:30 AM

  26. Martin (#23)

    2003 to 2009 data can be found here: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/outreach/isotopes/c14tellsus.html

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Mar 2012 @ 7:46 AM

  27. Pete (#18),

    Adding a well mixed greenhouse gas increases the altitude of the effective layer which balances absorbed radiation with emitted radiation. Hydrostatic equilibrium requires a lapse rate in the atmosphere which is essentially suspended from a higher altitude leading to surface warming. The lapse rate is the origin of the temperature differential Gavin mentioned.

    If you confine the greenhouse gas to the surface, there is no change in altitude for that layer. The layer and the surface are identical and radiation balance occurs there. If the surface is highly reflective in the infrared, the greenhouse gas could change the albedo owing to its infrared opacity and cause some warming that way, but that is not the greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Mar 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  28. Thank you for your help. In http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/outreach/isotopes/c14tellsus.html, I found data in graphical form but I did not find any machine readable data. I think I should contact ERSL.

    Comment by Martin A — 16 Mar 2012 @ 9:40 AM

  29. OK – I found their ftp downloadable data and I’m poring over it.

    Comment by Martin A — 16 Mar 2012 @ 9:47 AM

  30. #26–Thanks, Chris, for a helpful expansion.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Mar 2012 @ 11:04 AM

  31. #23 Also see:

    http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/graphics_gallery/isotopic_data/global_stations_isotopic_c14_trends.html

    Comment by AIC — 16 Mar 2012 @ 1:43 PM

  32. Martin (#27)

    No problem. There are software packages for turning figures back into data tables, but you can also just use a cursor readout in gimp. Glad you found the ftp site.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Mar 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  33. Contribution of CFC’s to GW if the growth rate * had continued.

    Isn’t this a major beneficial and unforseen consequence of Rowland et al’s work? (Ref.1)

    The slowdown in the growth rate of GHG climate forcing from the peak in the 1980s is due mainly to the phase-out of CFC production. If the 10% per year exponential growth of CFC production that existed until the 1970s had continued for several more years, the MPTG climate forcing (mostly from CFC-11 and CFC-12) now would exceed that of CO2 (15).

    Its was low but growing very fast indeed (Ref.2)

    Ref.1

    Ref.2 </a

    ——————-
    * I take it that this was not being produced primarily by aerosol propellants(See Gavin's comment following #20) but by heavier industrial activity.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 17 Mar 2012 @ 6:40 AM

  34. Contribution of CFC’s to GW if the growth rate * had continued.

    Isn’t this a major beneficial and unforseen consequence of Rowland et al’s work? (Ref.1)

    The slowdown in the growth rate of GHG climate forcing from the peak in the 1980s is due mainly to the phase-out of CFC production. If the 10% per year exponential growth of CFC production that existed until the 1970s had continued for several more years, the MPTG climate forcing (mostly from CFC-11 and CFC-12) now would exceed that of CO2 (15).

    Its was low but growing very fast indeed (Ref.2)

    Ref.1

    Ref.2 andr

    ——————-
    * I take it that this was not being produced primarily by aerosol propellants(See Gavin’s comment following #20) but by heavier industrial activity.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 17 Mar 2012 @ 7:42 AM

  35. Kevin – thank you. I found that Scripps also have downloadable numeric C14 data – looks very promising.

    Comment by Martin A — 17 Mar 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  36. http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2011GL050478.shtml
    Severe 2011 ozone depletion assessed with 11 years of ozone, NO2, and OClO measurements at 80°N
    Unprecedented low ozone and NO2 columns were observed in 2011
    Low ozone and NO2 columns are attributed to dynamics as well as chemistry
    47% maximum column ozone loss observed, the largest loss in the 11-year record

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  37. Re #5

    Eric, Thanks for your response. I always find it nice to be told I am correct. It happens so seldom.

    I did another calculation based on there being 7e16 moles of CO2 in the atmosphere. If that was all concentrated at the surface of the earth it would occupy 22.4 * 7e16 = 1.5e18 litres

    Divide that by the area of the surface of the Earth which is 5e8 sq km and you get 3e3 litres per sq m.

    So in cm that gives a height of 3,000,000/10,000 = 300 cm or 3m the same as before. But this method can give a more accurate answer should anyone want it :-(

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 18 Mar 2012 @ 8:25 AM

  38. Hank, thanks for the link on ozone. I would appreciate it if you could call to our attention any new study that examines the behavior of the NH ozone hole (of there is one) this year. I haven’t been able to find anything on it through google scholar (which they just made more difficult to find, I noticed), but your legendary web searching skills far outstrip mine.

    (reCaptcha–dim heGreat)

    Comment by wili — 18 Mar 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  39. wili @38: It seems to me that Scholar, with its focus on published literature, is unlikely to provide much about what’s happening now. I don’t know whether the following are along the lines of what you’re looking for.

    http://www.theozonehole.com/arctictemp.htm

    http://www.theozonehole.com/arctic2012.htm

    Comment by Rick Brown — 18 Mar 2012 @ 6:41 PM

  40. > legendary
    Mythical is a more accurate description. I ask reference librarians for help on ever possible occasion, as reality changes far faster than any individual can keep up.

    Start with an early paper, and work forward following citing papers; here’s one:

    Nature 360, 221 – 225 (19 November 1992); doi:10.1038/360221a0

    Possibility of an Arctic ozone hole in a doubled-CO2 climate

    John Austin*, Neal Butchart† & Keith P. Shine‡
    *Meteorological Office, London Road, Bracknell, RG12 2SZ, UK
    †Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, London Road, Bracknell, RG12 2SY, UK
    ‡Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, 2 Earley Gate, Reading, RG6 2AU, UK

    Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to cause cooling of the lower stratosphere. This could enhance the formation of polar stratospheric clouds, which convert potential ozone-depleting species to their active forms. In an idealized three-dimensional numerical simulation of the Northern Hemisphere winter stratosphere, doubling the CO2 concentration leads to the formation of an Arctic ozone hole comparable to that observed over Antarctica, with nearly 100% local depletion of lower-stratospheric ozone.

    Or look for +arctic, -antarctic, this year:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=ozone+hole+arctic+-antarctic&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_ylo=2012&as_vis=1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  41. RIP Dr. Rowland. Climate changes will disrupt the agricultural processes which will cause havoc in the developing world. Areas that grew rice before will not be able to and so on. Fighting over food and water is our future.

    Comment by Dr. Graham — 18 Mar 2012 @ 7:20 PM

  42. wili @38: And this, about winter 2010/2011, just made it into print:
    http://atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/12/6877/2012/acpd-12-6877-2012.pdf

    Comment by Rick Brown — 18 Mar 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  43. Time to try out the new tech: http://www.manafont.com/product_info.php/5level-ultraviolet-uv-level-detector-3ag10-p-3073

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2012 @ 9:29 PM

  44. Thanks, hank and rick, for the links. Now I just have to figure out what they mean :-/

    Comment by wili — 18 Mar 2012 @ 10:18 PM

  45. Like #9, I wonder whether “observations ran ahead of predictions” is a typo? If you mean to say “theory made predictions and then the observations came along and confirmed many of these predictions later”?

    [Response: No. Observations of the polar ozone hole were not predicted. The theory (heterogeneous chemistry on PSCs was only developed afterwards. Predictions of ozone loss were initially too small. - gavin]

    Comment by David MacKay — 21 Mar 2012 @ 2:10 PM

  46. A good history that brings out the sequence of events as Gavin described:

    The Ozone Layer
    Maureen Christie
    Cambridge U. Press (2001)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Mar 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  47. “Observations of the polar ozone hole were not predicted. The theory (heterogeneous chemistry on PSCs) was only developed afterwards. Predictions of ozone loss were initially too small.”

    An important point. I’m guessing that, as things spin ever more wildly out of whack, we will start having a number of ‘observations’ that run well ahead of predictions. We have already seen this with ice melt in the Arctic. Other developments–related to that and not–are also likely to run ahead of predictions, sometimes in dramatic and unpredicted ways (cf. “black swans”).

    Science may learn something from some of these events. Unfortunately, policy makers don’t seem to be as fast studies in learning from experience, however brutal that ‘experience’ is to their constituents. R

    Comment by wili — 21 Mar 2012 @ 10:19 PM

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