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Published June 13, 2003 | public
Journal Article

Potential Environmental Impact of a Hydrogen Economy on the Stratosphere


The widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells could have hitherto unknown environmental impacts due to unintended emissions of molecular hydrogen, including an increase in the abundance of water vapor in the stratosphere (plausibly by as much as ∼1 part per million by volume). This would cause stratospheric cooling, enhancement of the heterogeneous chemistry that destroys ozone, an increase in noctilucent clouds, and changes in tropospheric chemistry and atmosphere-biosphere interactions.

Additional Information

© 2003 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received for publication 1 April 2003; Accepted for publication 15 May 2003. We thank P. de Forster for sending us temperature data from his model, D. C. Noone for valuable discussions, and M. F. Gerstell for a critical reading of the manuscript. Supported in part by NASA grant NAG1-02081 and by a research grant to J.M.E. from General Motors.

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