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Solar influences on Polar ozone.

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Measurements by the TOMS instrument aboard the Nimbus 7 satellite, of total column ozone over polar regions have been studied to determine the effects of solar induced natural ozone modulation. Two different analysis methods were employed to ascertain short term (days to months) and long term (months to years) solar influences on polar ozone. Bursts of intense solar activity can result in solar proton events (SPE's). The high energy protons, originating in solar flares, produce secondary electrons which can generate large concentrations of odd nitrogen in the middle atmosphere. These reactive species can catalytically destroy ozone. Three case studies are presented in an attempt to quantify the effect of SPE's on ozone mass over a latitude region 90 to 70°. In order to monitor the ozone response following a SPE over both hemispheres simultaneously, the SPE must occur during the equinox period when both poles are irradiated. Fortuitously, a SPE was recorded in March 1989, the analysis of which forms a case study in this thesis. Ozone depletions of 7.4 x 10 to the power of 9 kg for the south polar cap and 8.0 x 10 to the power of 9 kg for the north polar cap indicate the degree of symmetry for this event. Longer term effects of solar variability are investigated by Fourier techniques. A Fourier transform of eleven years of total ozone mass values, over the region 90 to 70° S, was performed. Inspection of the Fourier spectrum reveals peaks associated with solar cycle, annual and semi-annual oscillations, that may be attributed directly to solar variation. Other peaks, corresponding to QBO and ENSO periodicities, may be ascribed to indirect solar influences i.e. thermally driven dynamics. Finally, a comparison between the phase of the solar cycle peak in this spectrum with that in a spectrum of daily values of solar radio flux, reveals that the austral polar ozone solar cycle periodicity lags solar forcing by 2.8 years. Portions of chapters have been reported at the 1990 South African Institute of Physics Annual Conference, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa and as a poster at the 1992 Quadrennial Ozone Symposium, Charlottesville, United States of America, 4-13 June 1992. In addition, various parts of this work has been submitted for publication, viz: Stephenson, J. A. E. and M. W. J. Scourfield, Importance of energetic solar protons in ozone depletion, Nature, 352, 137: 1991.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1994.


Theses--Physics., Atmospheric ozone--Polar Regions., Ozone layer--Polar Regions., Ozone layer depletion--Polar Regions., Solar radiation.