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The Billings County Pioneer
Beach, North Dakota
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September 15, 1960     The Billings County Pioneer
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September 15, 1960
 

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Y BILLINGS COUNTY PIONEER i Sanford Miller, chief meteorologist at the Bismarck weather sta- tion. cites the fase'n~ting birth, behavior and death of ozone to explain why 'Tew true scientists are athiests." Ozone is one of those substanees, like water, which would have to have been invented had it not already existed, in order to sustah-x life as we know it on this planet. Ozone pulsates through our atmosphere like blood circulating in an organism. Radiation oreates it at high altitudes, and for all we know, the absorption of short wave radiation by oxygen's changing to ozone may help shield us from excessive cosmic radiation. The ozone itself absorbs much ultraviolet ray radiation; without the ozane shield between us and the sun, sunburn would be 50 times worse than at the height of summer in high mountains with the sun in its zenith. Yet too much ozone in our atmosphere (no great probability as fax as we know') could filter out so much ultraviolet radiation that a biological desert would result--nothing would grow. Ozone also acts as an air purifier, destroying itself as it oxTdizes impurities in the air. Some scientists believe that an increase in atmospheric ozone over a period of years causes a decrease in ultraviolet radiation on earth which might account for observed 10-year fluctuatior~ in CaaadL~n wildlife. Other scientists wonder if the ozone layer has undergone changes during the earth's development and whether this has played a hitherto unsuspected part in dramatic changes in climate. To date. the ozone study poses more questions than it answers, yet this much is clear. The ozone equilibrium is as vital to life as that of the water cycle, and the warm ozone layer high above the earth exerts a powerful influence on our weather. tng khe day may be ignlficant Essential to Life, ,~ ~ merits from the other six sta- Ozone Ma~ ule ttons in the United StaT~s taking these measure~'nents, it is possible Climaleas Well o=o by Ge ge Wright [ '~ro fully apprecl~te the import- ance of the ozone ,found in the Weathermen at the U S. weather I ~'~ri}h's atmo~pb.~re, Miller says, bureau hope to find a way to im- "you must take into account that prove weather forecasts through this ~nall component of air con- measurements of ozone in the air. At present the U~has ozone sta- at Bl~srnarel~ Caribou Me Green Bay WIS WashingtonD.C. . and Mmma I~a Observv~ory, Ha- waii. Nashville, Term and F~. Worth, Texas. Ozone is a form of oxygen espe- cially noticeable by its "clean, fresh" smell right after a thunder- storm. In heavy concentrations. however, it is poisonous to man and may be a potential threat ,to our high-flying military airplanes, as well as their crews. Ozone at- tacks r~,bber and can c~nvert oil ultimately into a gummy mass. It is already known "A~ varia- tions in ozone in the air correlate wit~ weather. For instance, a drop in ozone concentration appears often before a storm. Weathermen hope to find close and reliable cor- rela'don~ of ozone and weather that might be used, some day, to improve 24-hour forecasts. Supper.ted also 'by the U. S. air force, navy and a~omic energy com- mission, the project has as its im- mediate goal the expansion of a network of seven stations to mea- sure ozone routinely. The AEC is inf~erested because it ~ees the possibility 11nat ozone movements might yield data on the speed of radioactive fallout follow- ing bomb tests. Tests have been eomplete~.d m Denver, Colo. on several ground and balbon-berne instruments that might be USed to gather data about tbls faintly ~]u~sh gas. Ozone is round at ground level, but reaches its heaviest concen~ra- lion at 60.000 to II0.000 feet. How is it pozflble for such a reto~tlvely hesvy component of air to maintain itself high in the ~.moq~hore? (Ozone has three atoms of oxygen to each molecule, COmlmred with the two oxygen a~nm which make up the ordinary oxygen mole- cule.) OnIy if ozone is constantly being regenerated, if shortwave radiation from ~he sun is capable of tran~- for~2ng oxygen to ozone. For ozone, after being formed gradual- ly destroys itself in absorbing ul- travtole~ radiation and in ozidiz- Ing impurities in the air. The heavy ozone ntolecules tend to settle into t~e lower reaches of the atmos- phere; only a trace is found at ~md level, dompared with the concentration 12 to 20 miles up. where 80 per cent of the total ozone supply is located. The earth's ocean of air is con- $idered to be about five miles hig~n. d which less than half an inch is Dzone. On a recent morning, ,the Bis- marck weather ~mre~u measured 0.$8~ centimeters of ozone above i~ station. By afternoon, the amount trols the radiative heating of an area 12 ~o 20 miles high." The seasonal heating and cooling of these l~yers cause~ large scale ~hanges kn stra~osphe~dc circula- tions. During the dark winter mont~hs, for example, winds blow from west to east with speeds reaching 200 miles per hour. But with the return of the sun in the spring, rRpid warming of these upper layers causes a corn- ~e~e reversal of the circulation, and by mid-summer the polar-strat- ospheric winds blow from east to west with speeds of 20 to 40 miles per .hour. Weather bureau researchers note that the way this cha~ge comes about varies from year to year, and they believe it ma~ be related to the distribution vf atmospheric ozone at the time when sunli~at agai~ penetrates the polar strat- osphere after the long winter night. '~he q~e~tion whether these dramatic circulation changes w~ich occur in the upper layers of the earth's atmosphere affect the short or long period weather changes in the lower layers has yet to be ans- wered." Miller sa,w. Terr~peral~res in the "warm lay- er" more than 30 miles above the earth, where ozone is found, ma~ reach 50 to 80 degrees centigrade. and the temperature contrasts which result cause large scale at- mospheric disturbances. As ozone is carried down towards ~he earth's surface it destroys it- self by oxidizing impurities in the air, and this helps account for the fact that maximum at an average altitude of abo~t 15 miles. (It has been estimated that if o- zone were not constantly being gen. erated in ~he outer reaches of the atmosphere, the total amount would decrease to a tentgt of its presen+. value within three years. The pre- sent rate of ozone formation and destruction will cause all atmos- pheric ozygen to go through the ozonized state in one million years.~ Ozone's Imi~tsaee In crea- tion of e~r atmm~ere is ob- vious. It also appears tl~t any ch~es, either man-mlsde or xmtural, In the amount o~ this gas, would have hnpo~ ef- fects on our large stole atm{~. pheric drculaflmm and on ter- restrial Rlologieal processea Space travelers will acquire a ~ealthy respect for the high cos. co.rations of ozone in the 124o-20 mile range above the earth's sur- facd; ozone can be higtdy toxic. Not only can it turn the space ma- chine's oil into a gummy mass and its rubber into a sticky oil, but ~zone in sufficient concentrations can also cause resplra~i2F irrita- tion. coma stupefaca~i~n and con- tinuous ,body pain. Today's calling Id;titttd~ of ~et decreased to .V35 centimeters. Wen- aircraft are now approaching the ther bureau research scierRists be- levels where ozone concentrations lieve even this ti~y fluctuation dur- ] can be a biological hazard and can [also affect the life, operation and ~u~dtioning of numerous aircraft parts and comp