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Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have uncovered evidence that wildfire smoke particles can lead to chemical reactions in the atmosphere that erode the ozone layer, reports Margaret Osborne for Smithsonian Magazine. “From a scientific point of view, it’s very exciting to see this brand new effect,” says Solomon. “From a planetary point of view… it would be just tragic to have mankind screw up solving the ozone hole by deciding that we’re going to [allow] a lot more of these fires if we don’t mitigate climate change.”

The Guardian

Researchers from MIT have found that wildfire smoke can activate chlorine-containing molecules that destroy the ozone layer, writes Donna Lu for The Guardian. “The question in my mind is: is the man-made chlorine going to get … diluted and destroyed out of the atmosphere faster than global climate change is going to increase the frequency and intensity of this kind of fire?” says Prof. Susan Solomon. “I think it’s going to be a race.”

Axios

Axios reporter Jacob Knutson highlights a new study by MIT researchers that finds the smoke released by major wildfires likely reactive chlorine-containing molecules in the atmosphere, delaying the recovery of the hole in the ozone layer. The researchers developed a model that found smoke released by Australian wildfires “chemically depleted between 3% to 5% of the total ozone column in the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes in June and July of 2020.”

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter James Dinneen writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds the smoke from Australian wildfires “may have enabled hydrochloric acid to dissolve at higher temperatures, generating more of the reactive chlorine molecules that destroy ozone.” Research scientist Kane Stone explains that “satellite observations showed chemistry that has never been seen before.”

Nature

MIT scientists have found that the Australian wildfires in 2019 and 2020 unleashed remnants of chlorine-containing molecules in the stratosphere, expanding the ozone hole and suggesting that more frequent wildfires could threaten the ozone hole’s recovery, reports Dyani Lewis for Nature. “It’s like a race,” says Prof. Susan Solomon. “Does the chlorine decay out of the stratosphere fast enough in the next, say, 40–50 years that the likely increase in intense and frequent wildfires doesn’t end up prolonging the ozone hole?”

Bloomberg

Prof. Kerry Emanuel and First Street Foundation have found that based on warming climate conditions and patterns, future storms will increase in intensity and travel farther north up the East Coast, reports Leslie Kaufman and Eric Roston for Bloomberg.

CNN

Prof. Kerry Emanuel speaks with CNN reporters Ella Nilsen and Renée Rigdon about future hurricane trends. “The bottom line is the models that are being used by the existing [catastrophe] modeling industry are based strictly on historical statistics,” says Emanuel. “The historical record isn’t very long, and it isn’t very good when you get back to before 1970.”

Boston.com

Visiting scientist Judah Cohen speaks with Boston.com reporter Eli Curwin about how a combination of more accurate data collection, precise weather models, and accessible forecast predictions make it unlikely that Massachusetts residents would be surprised again by a storm like the infamous Blizzard of ‘78. “The satellites, the ships, the weather stations, weather balloons used to integrate and assimilate all that data are much better than they used to be,” says Cohen.

Forbes

Forbes reporter Jeff McMahon spotlights visiting scientist Judah Cohen for his research examining the connection between Arctic snow cover and sea ice to cold air intrusions in the United States during the month of February. “December has certainly been warming if you look at the U.S.,” sayscCohen. But “February, going back to 1979—so quite a few years now—we're actually seeing in the center of the U.S. a very distinctive cooling trend.”

The Atlantic

Prof. Kerry Emanuel discusses the impact climate change has on hurricanes, reports Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic. “First of all, you can have more intense hurricanes in a warmer climate. That finding goes back well over 30 years now,” says Emanuel. “For that reason we expect to see more of the highest-category storms—the Cat 3s, Cat 4s, Cat 5s, more of the Ian-style storms.”

Newsweek

Prof. Kerry Emanuel speaks with Newsweek reporter Pandora Dewan about Hurricane Ian and its correlation to climate change, reports Pandora Dewan for Newsweek. “What worries people in my profession is the confluence of two trends," says Emanuel. "One is demographic, one is nature. The number of people exposed to hurricanes has tripled since 1970 [as] people are moving in droves to hurricane-prone regions. Then the climate is changing, and that is demonstrably increasing the incidence of high-end storms like Ian."

The Verge

Associate Group Leader at the Lincoln Laboratory, William (Bill) Blackwell is the principal investigator for NASA’s TROPICS mission, which is preparing to launch small satellites into space to help better track the development of tropical storms, reports Justine Calma for The Verge. “With more frequent observations from these satellites, scientists hope to better understand how tropical storms grow and intensify,” writes Calma.

EOS

A study conducted by Prof. Susan Solomon and her colleagues has found that unlike CFCs, smoke destroys the ozone in a more roundabout way, creating concerns due to the impact of the Australian bushfires of 2019-2020, reports Krystal Vasquez for EOS. “Because of the sheer scale of the event [the Australian bushfires] massive amounts of smoke penetrated the normally pristine upper stratosphere,” writes Vasquez.

The Wall Street Journal

Prof. Susan Solomon speaks with Wall Street Journal reporter Nidhi Subbaraman about her research and another recent study that provides evidence wildfire smoke poses a threat to the ozone layer. “It’s fair to say that, at least for a few months, these wildfires canceled out the last decade of all the efforts that we put in over the Montreal Protocol,” says Solomon. “I think there’s every reason to believe this is going to happen more often, and it’s going to act to slow down the recovery of the ozone depletion.”

The Hill

Smoke from Australian wildfires in 2019 and 2020 appears to have contributed to the breakdown of the ozone layer, according to a new study by MIT scientists, reports Sharon Udasin for The Hill. “The new study establishes the first direct link between wildfire smoke and ozone depletion,” writes Udasin.