Processes and interactions in the Antarctic atmosphere

The Antarctic atmosphere is physically and chemically unique and influences all latitudes. The goal of this programme is to improve our understanding of the Antarctic atmosphere's role in global change and its response to that change.

The programme investigates the evolution of ozone depletion over Antarctica, the effect of that depletion on New Zealand and globally, and the influence of the Antarctic on greenhouse trace gases.

The most dramatic effect of anthropogenic changes in the stratosphere is ozone depletion over Antarctica, which increases biologically-damaging radiation. Although ozone-destroying gases are expected to decline soon, ozone recovery may be delayed 1-2 decades due to interactions with climate change. The programme will compare observations in the Antarctic with predictions based on models to give insight into the future of the ozone layer.

Changes in greenhouse gases, including ozone, affect the radiative balance of the atmosphere in ways that are not fully understood. This study of Antarctic atmospheric composition will determine trends of trace gases at sites away from regional sources and determine the uptake of CO2 by the Southern Ocean.

Composite image of Antarctica in the global context. [NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio,]