The aurora borealis unleashed amazing light shows in the night sky, but they also illuminate another cause of ozone depletion.
Although humans are responsible for much of the depletion of the ozone layer, observations of a type of aurora known as the aurora borealis have revealed the cause of the ozone depletion that comes from space: solar flares And the coronal mass ejection Also keep nibbling at the ozone layer. Before now, the effect of these particles was only vaguely known.
Now, an international research team has found that the effects of isolated auroras have caused a 250-mile-wide (400 kilometer) hole in the ozone layer, which is exploding below where the auroras occur. Most of the ozone disappeared within about an hour and a half. The researchers explained in statement.
Isolated proton aurora may not be as flashy as Northern lights and its southern counterpart, but it is still visible to the human eye. Plasma onslaught I unleashed the sun It brings with it high-energy ions and electrons. These particles end up stuck in the ground and beyond Van Allen Radiation Beltswhich prevents particles from directly bombarding the planet and turning it into a wasteland like the sun Mars.
Particles that reach the inner radiation belt can tamper with it Earth’s atmosphere When they infiltrate the magnetic field lines. Nitrogen and hydrogen oxides that are emitted from particle interactions with the atmosphere deplete ozone. However, this only applies to the ozone layer in the mesosphere. The most important layer below, the stratosphere, remains unaffected. However, isolated proton auroras affect Earth in other ways.
“[Electron fallout] of the Earth’s radiation belt plays an important role in the loss of the ozone layer as a relationship between space weather and the climate system,” the researchers wrote in a study describing their findings.
Although the damage left by atmospheric ozone repairs itself more quickly than holes in the stratospheric ozone layer (which are often caused by human activity), isolated proton auroras still influence changes in the atmosphere. space climate They can cause satellites and electrical infrastructure to malfunction, and charged particles pose a danger to astronauts.
The findings will help scientists predict fluctuations in space weather that could affect the planet’s atmosphere.
The research was published October 11 in the journal Scientific Reports (Opens in a new tab).
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