The Canadian, Non-Ozone-Hole Story of January1992 Re-told.
Three people approached me at the Trout Lake LTER meeting about their concerns over NASA's chlorine monoxide press release! I knew I was sent to the meeting for a purpose.
I told them that the Canadians had published in Nature (Jan. 9, 1992) that the source of ClO and BrO in the Arctic was ocean water and Pinatubo halogens. I also mentioned that there is the1951 vintage Compendium of Meteorology with charts of ozone concentrations in the Northern hemisphere (Tromso, Norway (1939-1948) at Arosa, Switzerland by month (1926-1946) and that there was an "ozone hole" in winter even then. I told them not to worry about a bad sunburn out on Trout Lake. The best time of the year for an ozone hole is winter when the sun shines least on the southern hemisphere After all it is winter -- darkness in December. Nonetheless there is still a bother! Just ask Pooh.
Well, while most of us were winging our way to Trout Lake, the fan got hit. Over the past few weeks NASA has sprung leaks. Headlines should read: LEAKING SCIENTISTS AT NASA! The results of all that LEAKING even reached Charlottesville, Virginia. Apparently, they sent up another plane on the trail of the chlorine and bromine monoxides that would make an ozone hole over the high latitudes this winter and put Trout Lakegoers in peril. There were few suntans earned at Crystal Lake to say nothing of the cute bog we visited.
Well, the NASA plane went up again (post press release) and had a devil of a time finding the chlorine monoxide. NASA satellites also had trouble finding the ozone killing chlorine and bromine monoxides. NASA Ozone-PIs had to go public. The LEAKERS won. Joe Waters Project PI out of Cal Tech said the satellites said that the chlorine monoxide had gone down since January to one third of its former self. The aircraft measurements confirmed the low chlorine monoxide values. Ozone Satellite PI Kurylo admitted that "there won't be a large ozone hole this year." Apparently one day of high ClO or BrO doesn't an ozone hole make.
Remember when the news-release-before-publication, highest-ever-cholrine monoxide story broke on February 3. Chicken Littles, much practiced these days, ran everywhere. Environmental President Bush (41), through the politically correct lips of EPA Reilly, was "very concerned" and would likely move up the date to phase out chlorofluorocarbons. Not to be outdone, the Senate voted 96-0 to ban the chemicals as soon as possible! The sky was rumored to be falling on February 3. Of course a suitable CFC replacement had been marketed by DOW Chemical.
As to news-release-before-publication method, Brian Dunbar of NASA played the role of spin doctor and said the reason for the release was "because there's so much public interest." The system "worked the way it was supposed to -- we provide the information and the policy makers made their decision." It is so nice to be Hubbled every once in a while by NASA. Sorry about the length of this item, but it is hard to stop when you are having fun.
Some day, some one will come on the public stage asking us not to waste crisis.