Monday, March 12, 2012

In Memorium Sherry Rowland

Sherry Rowland has died at the age of 84.  Rowland and his then student Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize for discovering how chlorine atoms can catalytically destroy ozone. 

When Rowland was young, reaction kinetics was also.  The community that studied gas phase reactions was limited by sources and detection methods as well as theoretical possibilities.  Eli only met and talked with Rowland once, in the mid seventies, but he worked for and with many of Rowland's contemporaries who always spoke highly of him.  That generation, the successors to such pioneers as Norrish and Porter, has essentially passed.  With Sherry Rowland's death there is one less. 

One story that remains with the Rabett is how Rowland explained that being trailed by a Dupont representative was at first bothersome, but after some reflection not, because the presence of the "opposition" kept him from embroidery and, who knows, he said, I may have convinced them.


Russell said...

Don't forget Paul Crutzen!

John said...

When Rowland first discovered the depletion of stratospheric ozone by freon, there was plenty of skepticism and opposition from industry and also from some of his fellow scientists. Jeffrey Masters explains the arguments advanced by the skeptics . Eventually the skeptics were proven wrong. So what are the skeptics doing today? Some of them are denying global warming.

Thomas said...

John, quite a few of them are still denying that CFC:s deplete the ozone layer. There is a group that has to prove that environmentalists are wrong, not just once or twice but always, and they are still stuck defending CFC:s, DDT and so on.

David B. Benson said...

The Flat Earthers, of whatever flavor, will always be with us.

Jonathan Gilligan said...

You can tell a lot about big people's character from how they treat little people.

I met Rowland once, a couple of years after his Nobel, when he came to Vanderbilt to give a colloquium. I was a lowly adjunct and it meant a lot to me that Rowland showed real interest in comparing our experiences teaching, and in listening to my thoughts about the politicization of ozone science; he followed up with a nice letter. Small courtesies, but they meant a lot to me and contribute to my admiration for Rowland as a mensch in addition to my admiration for him as a scientist.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Of course the scrumptous irony here is that in order for those chlorine atoms to destroy the ozone, it has to get very, very, very cold for the chlorine to chemically react. Quite hilarious that a large ozone hole formed over the north pole just last year. Of course I am one of the few who has been predicting global cooling.

Anonymous said...

I really did not wish to pollute this deserved in memoriam, but... in which journal has this prediction of yours been published, Dr Cadbury phd? [Rhetorical, just in case you don't twig!]

In 1991 Brune et al (Science 252: 1260) wrote:

"The nature of the Arctic polar stratosphere is observed to be similar in many respects to that of the Antarctic polar stratosphere, where an ozone hole has been identified. Most of the available chlorine (HCl and ClONO2) was converted by reactions on polar stratospheric clouds to reactive ClO and Cl2O2 throughout the Arctic polar vortex before midwinter. Reactive nitrogen was converted to HNO3, and some, with spatial inhomogeneity, fell out of the stratosphere. These chemical changes ensured characteristic ozone losses of 10 to 15% at altitudes inside the polar vortex where polar stratospheric clouds had occurred. These local losses can translate into 5 to 8% losses in the vertical column abundance of ozone. As the amount of stratospheric chlorine inevitably increases by 50% over the next two decades, ozone losses recognizable as an ozone hole may well appear."

In 1992 Austin et al. (Nature 360: 221) wrote:

"Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to cause cooling of the lower stratosphere. This could enhance the formation of polar stratospheric clouds, which convert potential ozone-depleting species to their active forms. In an idealized three-dimensional numerical simulation of the Northern Hemisphere winter stratosphere, doubling the CO2 concentration leads to the formation of an Arctic ozone hole comparable to that observed over Antarctica, with nearly 100% local depletion of lower-stratospheric ozone."

In 2012 Cadbury writes... a load of twaddle!

Cymraeg llygoden

John said...

Fred Singer didn't believe human activity caused the ozone hole. And he's a global warming denier.

As the country song goes, ya gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.
If you get into a scientific battle, and your opponent wins the Nobel prize, it's time to fold 'em.
That has now happened to Fred Singer twice.

Anonymous said...

@Cymraeg True Believer

um, are you serious? Eli isn't as smart as you think, and this time he stepped in a very big pile.

"Here we describe aircraft
observations of mountain-wave-induced mesoscale PSCs in
which temperatures were 12K lower than expected synoptically.
Model calculations show that despite their localized nature, these
PSCs can cause almost complete conversion of inactive chlorine
species to ozone-destroying forms in air flowing through the

That's called getting owned Cymraeg

Anonymous said...

@John Mashey

John, I know you're a big time activist so I'm not going to get in a long argument with you here but we all know you hate Fred Singer. You and Jbowers both have this habit of repetition that I just don't get. Everybody here besides me is in agreement with you that Fred Singer is the devil and they agree with J Bowers that there is a big conspiracy by big oil and they are throwing money over skeptic scientists.

So what are you doing? You can't reinforce these points any more than you already have.

I think it is only fair now that every time you snipe Fred Singer, I shall spin my wheel of clown scientists that you worship and post a snipe on them. How would that be?

birdbrainscan said...

Dr. Cadbury,

You are "predicting" cooling, presumably of global mean surface temperature? You need to understand that stratospheric ozone depletion is enhanced when the *stratosphere* is especially cold. This is not diagnostic of surface temperature trends. The stratosphere can indeed cool while the surface warms.
You need to learn about the concept of lapse rate, and look at the discussion of how vertical temperature profiles may change with ongoing increases in radiatively active gases.

Anonymous said...


yes I understand the difference, but don't you think it's ironic that this blog is about global warming yet as recently as last year or it might have been 2010 I forget, it was so cold in the northern arctic that the ozone hole was comparable to the one in Antarctica?

Hank Roberts said...

Must we tolerate picketers at funerals?

Rowland and Crutzen get credit for a successful warning.

So should the operators of the equipment.

That story's lesson seems generally true about early cautions: do not "waste time trying to convince the Americans" about an early warning:

"David George, an Oxford physicist who worked with Joe Farman in the Antarctic .... actually operated the Dobsonmeter that produced the seminal ultraviolet measurements .

He told me Joe realised the significance of the measurements but needed confirmation .... Joe arranged to visit the Americans .... Their data confirmed closely the British measurements, but the Americans had not realised their importance, and in fact did not really trust them. I understand that Joe did not waste time trying to convince the Americans otherwise.

Joe went ahead and published his results in Nature, ... a perfectly reasonable course of action, since time was of the essence in initiating action ....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, can you explain the irony in the stratosphere above the arctic showing one of the tell-tale signs of global warming by cooling?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


ah, the old "anything that happens is because of global warming."

Tough argument there Marco, you got me!

J Bowers said...

"they agree with J Bowers that there is a big conspiracy by big oil"

The US Chamber of Commerce? Yes. The hack scientists who slut themsleves out for wads of cash? Yes. The lobby companies-in-disguise and fake think tanks who tailor their 'think' for the highest 'donors'? Yes. It's a well paid scam.

'Why We Hate the Oil Companies' by John Hofmeister is a worthwhile read. I don't point to individual managers in any oil company (aside from the Kochs, and perhaps Tillerson and Blankenship). They have a duty under the law to maximise profits for shareholders or face various penalties. The slag scammers simply fill a gap in the market from amongst their comprehensive network, while satisfying their political bent.

EliRabett said...

Eli knows the folks who operated the TOMs and yes, they were very suspicious of their observations at the time. A lesson of the costs of skepticism.

However, clowns at funerals often lead to interesting reading. Eli had not realized that Sherry was a co author on the Solomon paper which proposed the PSC mechanism and deeply involved in the research. How Science Really Works (@ ucBerkeley, is a wonderful telling of the story
With some preliminary results in hand, Solomon contacted Rowland. As it happened, Rowland was also wondering what would happen if solid surfaces were added into atmospheric models. Through laboratory experiments, he had already found that some key reactions (e.g., the release of destructive chlorine from ozone-friendly chlorine nitrate) occurred more readily on the surface of solids like glass and Teflon — and by extension, perhaps also ice from polar clouds.

Since Rowland was on a similar track to Solomon and Garcia, they decided to collaborate. With their proposed reactions, they explained how ice particles from the seemingly harmless clouds could not only free ozone-destroying chlorine, but also tie up the chemicals that could take chlorine out of commission, like nitrogen dioxide.

EliRabett said...

Dear anon 13/3/12 11:41 AM

You do realize that the link is not to the paper you think it was, that the paper you think it was simply says that PSCs can form at a faster rate locally due to cooling from mountain and gravity waves in the stratosphere which INCREASEs psc driven denitrification locally, verifying the Solomon/Rowland mechanism. Oh yes, that was in the Arctic, not the Antarctic, where, because it is naturally cooler, gravity waves are smaller perturbations.

And for giggles, you do realize, do you not, that stratospheric cooling driven by the increase in CO2 greenhouse gas concentrations actually makes the situation, shall Eli say, colder, and you more foolish.

Please leave your keys with the doorman on your way out. Hank will figure out the tank where you fished your slime out of.

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says:

I read the the Rowland and Molina paper in science and Understood the importance of it. Even though I'm nothing of a chemist.
Eli, I was on the Nimbus-4 reprocessing committee. We decided to get ground truth for the Antarctic data and to flag the data until we did. Yeah, it was too conservative. The Dobson data that showed the hole was proprietary to a British group and we couldn't get hold of it. Got scooped.

Anonymous said...

@eli rabett

you are correct I linked to the wrong paper. This is the correct link

"And for giggles, you do realize, do you not, that stratospheric cooling driven by the increase in CO2 greenhouse gas concentrations actually makes the situation, shall Eli say, colder, and you more foolish."

I realize that's your opinion, I don't agree with it. It is very much like you and your followers claiming that the MWP was cooler than current temperatures. I think the fact that more ozone is depleted at colder temperatures demonstrates how stupid global warming theory is, it's a complete contradiction, and maybe that's why nobody believes it anymore.

I'm not too worried though Eli, the skeptics are the ones that stick their necks out, while your team hides behind the computer screen.

For giggles, do you realize the greenest the planets ever been was during the highest concentrations of co2, and with the animals who had the largest carbon footprints in the history of earth.

Don't let the door hit you where god split you before you walk out.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...


We have something in common. Neither of us has the slightest idea what you are talking about. Every sentence you posted was utter nonsense--with the exception of Eli's quote. You should endeavor to quote more often, as it could only increase the information content of your writing.

Greenhouse mechanism


Got it? Or do you need a map?

Anonymous said...


I think increasing temperatures at the surface and decreasing temperatures in the stratosphere is a paradox that is incorrectly explained by the "blanket effect".

As Dr. Lindzen has said many times, using the term "blanket effect" is a very misleading way to describe the greenhouse effect.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

No,cooling temperatures in the stratosphere have nothing to do with the "blanket effect". They are a product of the radiative properties of CO2 coupled with a thermal profile where temperature increases with altitude. Crack a book.

J Bowers said...

"For giggles, do you realize the greenest the planets ever been was during the highest concentrations of co2,...

Great for pine trees, but while grass species (e.g., includes crops and cereals) were waiting for CO2 levels to drop.

...and with the animals who had the largest carbon footprints in the history of earth."

Homo sapiens sapiens are the animals with the largest carbon footprints in the history of Earth.

Anonymous said...

Got it? Or do you need a map?

No, a_ray, Anon (presumably the chocolate teapot) doesn't get it because he can't get it or doesn't want to get it.

Anon (presumably the chocolate teapot) needs a functioning left hemisphere rather than a map.

Of course, Anon (presumably the chocolate teapot) may have a semi-functioning left hemisphere but with an overdeveloped anterior prefrontal cortex, resulting in a marked propensity to exhibit disingenuity.

Cymraeg llygoden

Jonathan Gilligan said...

Flogging a dead horse: Let's kill the "stratospheric cooling is an example of 'anything that happens is because of global warming.'" meme.

All the way back in 1966, Manabe and Wetherald predicted that future global warming due to rising levels of carbon dioxide would be accompanied by stratospheric cooling. Conversely, global warming driven by a brighter sun would be accompanied by stratospheric warming.

In addition to addressing the polar ozone question at hand, this prediction is also a nice answer to the "how do you know the late 20th century warming isn't due to solar brightening" crowd (hello, Prof. Curry).

Manabe and Wetherald, "Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity," J. Atmos. Sci. 24(3), 241-58 (1967). See, particularly, Fig. 8 for temperature change due to changing solar constant and Fig. 16 for temperature change due to changing CO2 concentrations.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


no sorry that's your opinion and a very wrong one at that. Dinosaurs had much larger carbon footprints.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd

@jonathan gilligan

let's put to rest the theory of the global warming meme.

Earth is below GAT and average atmospheric co2. In 150 years, the temperature has gone from 288.0 kelvin to 288.8 kelvin. Because GAT is below average human attribution cannot be distinguished from natural.

Additionally, global warming theory holds that increasing levels of co2 will cause temperature to rise and that manmade forcings are stronger than natural forcings.

This has all been falsified because there has been net cooling from 2001-present, proving that natural effects dominate manmade effects.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Does your "average" temperature take into account the portion of Earth's history when it was molten? How about the portion prior to accretion and solar ignition when it was about 3 K?

Dude, that is an absolutely stupid way of looking at it unless you are a fricking dinosaur. What matters is the temperature range at which we can feed 10 billion people by midcentury. Moron.

Marion Delgado said...

John that ozone skeptics link was wonderful. I am going to push it all over. Obviously, when someone first comes out with discovery X the proper attitude is skepticism to X (as well as further investigation of X). But that response was clearly indicative of preemption of fact-finding - meaning businesses thought it was highly likely and decided to bypass testing it and commence burying it.

Marion Delgado said...

No one should have to argue with really old crap like "if the Earth is warming, why would the stratosphere cool?" which is insane even for insane - it's precisely the greenhouse argument that the radiant heat is not reaching the stratosphere but staying lower down and that it's heat up top of the stratosphere that goes back out into space, etc. I suggest a skeptical science link for any well-worn questions.