In our group, we study the chemistry of the atmospheric ozone layer and the processes that are associated to it. The ozone layer is protecting the Earth from the Sun’s dangerous ultraviolet radiation. This area of research has been traditionally challenging because of its remote location and the complexity of the processes involved. However, today we are entering in a new era where a new generation of sophisticated numerical models offers an unprecedented capability of simulating this region of the atmosphere and where new satellite instruments provide continuous measurements of the concentration of many atmospheric chemical constituents.
Our research is making intensive use of computers. We develop and use a variety of numerical models that run on our new high-performance parallel supercomputer and on our workstations. Click here for more information on our supercomputer. Using these numerical models, we aim at improving our understanding of these processes and of how they are changing under climate change conditions. A major motivation for this research is to predict the changes in the ozone layer and related processes over the next century while climate is changing rapidly under anthropogenic forcing.
Figure 1: Results from a high-resolution idealised numerical model which was setup to represent chemistry near the tropopause. Vertical axis: latitude; horizontal axis: longitude. The first figure represents the simulated OH, the second figure the simulated Ox and the third the simulated H2O. In this idealised model, Ox reacts with H2O to form OH. However, as Ox originates from the stratosphere (high latitudes) and H2O from the troposphere (low latitudes), OH is only produced at the interface between these two reservoirs (the tropopause) where chaotic mixing takes place.
Figure 2: Picture of our new high-performance parallel supercomputer named Hydroxyl.