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Brussels, 18 November 1999

Ozone loss over European Arctic
EU and US join forces in the biggest field study yet

Keywords: ozone, environment, international cooperation

The European Commission announced today that the Theseo campaign (Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone) will be extended to study ozone loss over the Arctic and Europe in the winter 1999/2000. Theseo 2000, jointly funded by the EU and national agencies, will be a major part of the biggest field campaign yet to study chemical ozone loss over the Arctic. European scientists in Theseo 2000 will collaborate closely with US scientists in the NASA-sponsored Solve campaign (SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment).

The Theseo 2000-Solve campaign is a truly international study involving more than 350 people from the European Union, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. Measurements of ozone and other atmospheric gases will be made using aircraft, long-duration balloons (up to one month), ground-based instruments and satellites. The Theseo 2000-Solve campaign represents a new element of cooperation between researchers from European, US and other countries. Details are being worked out at a planning meeting of Theseo 2000 and Solve representatives in Brussels today. The collaboration falls under the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United States, which came into force in 1998.

In addition, Theseo 2000 will address two interrelated problems, which are of particular concern for Europe:

To avoid the ozone decline impairing the health and well-being of European citizens, it is important to understand these issues in detail. Recent modeling work has in fact suggested that greenhouse gases might in the future lead to larger ozone losses in the Arctic than were previously expected and also delay the expected recovery of the ozone layer worldwide. Researchers will therefore examine the processes that control polar and mid-latitude ozone levels over the course of the Arctic winter 1999-2000.

Journalists will be invited to the main field station in Kiruna1, Sweden during the week of 21-28 January, when most of the science teams will be on hand. A newsroom will be established near the airport during this peak period, and journalists will be escorted into the research area to meet operational and scientific personnel.

For further information:

More information, including a list of participating institutions, can be found at:

You may also contact one of the following people:


1 Kiruna is a town in Swedish Lappland which lies just inside the Arctic Circle. It has a population of about 25,000 and has good hotels and accommodation that normally cater for tourists. There are impressive scientific facilities for atmospheric research which have been developed over the last 10 years in support of the European field campaigns, with balloon launching facilities at Esrange and a dedicated scientific hangar, Arena Arctica, at Kiruna airport.


Theseo 2000-Solve: working together for a better understanding of the ozone layer

In all, more than 350 international scientists, technicians and support workers are involved in the Theseo 2000-Solve campaign. Measurements of stratospheric composition will be made using a large suite of instruments aboard several European aircraft - the German DLR Falcon, the French INSU ARAT and Mystère 20, and a Swiss Air Force Lear Jet - and on NASA's ER-2 and DC-8. Most of these planes will be based in Kiruna, Sweden during the campaign. Research balloons, carrying payloads weighing up to several hundred kilograms will be launched from Kiruna by teams from CNES, ESRANGE and NASA. The European network of over 30 stations of ground-based instruments will take atmospheric readings over a wide area which will show how the chemical composition of Arctic stratosphere evolves through the whole winter. Ozone loss will be derived from over 600 ozonesondes launched from the site of an international experiment coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. All these measurements will be complemented by observations from a number of satellite instruments including the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) on board the ESA ER-2 satellite.

Theseo 2000-Solve builds on previous studies of the Arctic in the European campaigns, Easoe (1991-92), Sesame (1994-95) and the main part of Theseo (1998-99) as well as NASA's AASE I (1988) and II (1991/92). Such campaigns have shown that, while chlorine and bromine compounds are responsible for ozone loss over the Arctic, it is not currently possible to reproduce the size of the loss using the state-of-the-art computer models of the atmosphere. This particular aspect will be of prime importance this winter.

Theseo 2000 consists of a core of 12 major EU-funded projects within the Environment programmes of both Fourth and Fifth Framework programmes. Theseo 2000 is part of the EU's major research programme on stratospheric ozone and UV-B radiation, which includes laboratory-based research into the fundamental principles of stratospheric chemistry, the development of new devices to measure the atmosphere's composition, research into improving atmospheric chemical models and UV-B field measurements 2. The research funded by the EU in Theseo 2000 is closely coordinated with, and substantially increased by, the national research programmes. European research on stratospheric ozone and UV-B makes a valuable contribution to the international research which underpins the Montreal Protocol, which aims to phase out the ozone depleting substances, such as CFCs, halons etc.


2 See http://ec.europa.eu/research/envsc/theseo.html

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PRESS RELEASES | PRESS RELEASES OF 1999 | 18.11.1999