Study Finds Important Implications of the Stratosphere for Life on Earth

Man-made climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing us today, but uncertainty in the exact magnitude of global change hampers effective policy responses. New research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) reduces uncertainty in future climate change linked to the stratosphere, with important implications for life on Earth.

About The Stratosphere

The stratosphere is home to the ozone layer which protects surface life from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The stratosphere is 10-50 km above the earth’s surface and is a very dry region of the atmosphere because air usually enters this region. 

As air rises in the tropics into the stratosphere, it is effectively freeze-dried as it passes through the region around the tropopause, 16 km above the tropical earth’s surface, with a temperature of about -80°C.

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How The Stratosphere Study Was Conducted

An international team led by Peer Nowack has developed a new statistical learning approach that combines information from satellite observations with state-of-the-art climate model data to narrow the range of possible future stratospheres. amount of water vapor.

Measuring stratospheric water vapor trends under global warming is a longstanding research challenge. The complexity of the basic processes that control stratospheric water vapor and the relatively short record of high-quality satellite observations make this task difficult.

How Climate Feedbacks and The Stratosphere Related

The amount of water vapor that the stratosphere has is an example of one of those feedback loops, which climate models have predicted will increase, but the range of increases modeled has remained very wide for decades.

This is important, because large climate-driven increases in stratospheric water vapor, as projected by many climate models, could delay the restoration of the Antarctic ozone layer and ozone hole over the course of this century.

If the stratosphere retains too much water vapor from climate change,it could harm the ozone layer’s recovery and damage the Antarctic ozone hole over the course of the century. This groundbreaking research is a major step toward better understanding, predicting, and ultimately combating climate change.


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