by Dale Elizabeth Corey
Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) international research team took a look at the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of pollutants and some greenhouse gases. Findings were more positive than expected. The atmosphere is doing pretty well against environmental changes.
A new analysis shows that global levels of the hydroxyl radical, a critical player in atmospheric chemistry, do not vary much from year to year. Levels of hydroxyl, which help clear the atmosphere of many hazardous air pollutants and some important greenhouse gases – but not carbon dioxide – dip and rise by only a few percent every year; not by up to 25 percent, as was once estimated. Details of the analysis are described at