During the Tropospheric Ozone Production about the Spring Equinox (TOPSE) aircraft program, ozone depletion events (ODEs) in the high latitude surface layer were investigated using lidar and in situ instruments. Flight legs of 100 km or longer distance were flown 32 times at 30 m altitude over a variety of regions north of 58° between early February and late May 2000. ODEs were found on each flight over the Arctic Ocean but their occurrence was rare at more southern latitudes. However, large area events with depletion to over 2 km altitude in one case were found as far south as Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay and as late as 22 May. There is good evidence that these more southern events did not form in situ but were the result of export of ozone-depleted air from the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean. Surprisingly, relatively intact transport of ODEs occurred over distances of 900–2000 km and in some cases over rough terrain. Accumulation of constituents in the frozen surface over the dark winter period cannot be a strong prerequisite of ozone depletion since latitudes south of the Arctic Ocean would also experience a long dark period. Some process unique to the Arctic Ocean surface or its coastal regions remains unidentified for the release of ozone-depleting halogens. There was no correspondence between coarse surface features such as solid ice/snow, open leads, or polynyas with the occurrence of or intensity of ozone depletion over the Arctic or subarctic regions. Depletion events also occurred in the absence of long-range transport of relatively fresh “pollution” within the high latitude surface layer, at least in spring 2000. Direct measurements of halogen radicals were not made. However, the flights do provide detailed information on the vertical structure of the surface layer and, during the constant 30 m altitude legs, measurements of a variety of constituents including hydroxyl and peroxy radicals. A summary of the behavior of these constituents is made. The measurements were consistent with a source of formaldehyde from the snow/ice surface. Median NOx in the surface layer was 15 pptv or less, suggesting that surface emissions were substantially converted to reservoir constituents by 30 m altitude and that ozone production rates were small (0.15–1.5 ppbv/d) at this altitude. Peroxyacetylnitrate (PAN) was by far the major constituent of NOy in the surface layer independent of the ozone mixing ratio.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Geophysical Research



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.