Researching and monitoring our atmosphere’s ozone layer has become a career to many scientists around the world. After all, understanding and controlling the effects of air pollution and global warming are issues of importance to every living creature on the planet. The ozone layer, the region of the upper atmosphere, between approximately 10 and 20 miles (or 15 and 30 kilometers) in altitude, contains a relatively high concentration of ozone (a natural form of oxygen O3) that absorbs solar ultraviolet radiation in a wavelength range not screened by other atmospheric components. In other words, the ozone layer helps protect us from the harmful effects of the sun.
Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science has developed a method of analyzing the ozone layer by measuring the air speed in the atmosphere and why ozone exists where it is. The research specifically involves tracking carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will offer insight into how air pollution travels and what might be effecting our ozone layer.
To tackle the challenge of collecting data from the atmosphere, the Department developed a system that utilizes a carbon dioxide meter whose data is captured by a data logger (manufactured by Campbell Scientific, North Logan, UT). Both instruments are attached to a balloon. The data from the balloon is telemetered to a receiving unit on the ground where it is transferred through to the serial port of a personal computer and WinWedge Pro, data acquisition software from TAL Technologies, Philadelphia, PA. WinWedge parses and filters the data and transfers it via dynamic data exchange (DDE) to Microsoft Excel. The data is automatically graphed and analyzed by Excel.
Additionally, the Department is using S-Plus from MathSoft (Cambridge, MA) for statistical analysis of large amounts of data and Origin from Microcal (Northampton, MA) for graphics.
The Department’s research is used in conjunction with information gathered from satellites and measuring instruments on the ground. The project is funded by NASA and others who want to build environment-friendly aircraft.View All Applications