Paul Crutzen Proves that Nitrous Oxide Impacts the Stratospheric Ozone Layer


In 1970 Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen published "The influence of nitrogen oxides on the atmospheric ozone content,"  Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 96, 320-325.

"Crutzen pointed out that emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a stable, long-lived gas produced by soil bacteria, from the Earth's surface could affect the amount of nitric oxide (NO) in the stratosphere. Crutzen showed that nitrous oxide lives long enough to reach the stratosphere, where it is converted into NO. Crutzen then noted that increasing use of fertilizers might have led to an increase in nitrous oxide emissions over the natural background, which would in turn result in an increase in the amount of NO in the stratosphere. Thus human activity could have an impact on the stratospheric ozone layer" (Wikipedia article on Ozone depletion, accessed 11-26-2010).

In 1995 Crutzen shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Mario J. Molina and Frank S. Rowland "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone".

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