Forrest M. Mims III, a science writer who last year won a 50,000-Swiss-franc (about $32,500) Rolex Award for inventing a hand-held ozone-monitoring device called a total ozone portable spectroradiometer, or TOPS (Notebook, The Scientist, June 28, 1993, page 4), detected record-low ozone levels last month in South Central Texas using an instrument built with the Rolex funds, a MicroTOPS (microprocessor- controlled TOPS) ozonometer. Mims found that ozone fell about 20 percent below the mean level for the area, as measured by NASA's former ozone satellite, Nimbus-7, in 1978-82. In 1992, Mims, using TOPS, detected an error in the calibration of Nimbus-7, proving NASA's measurements wrong. His study was conducted through his Sun Photometer Atmospheric Network, or SPAN, which measures ozone, water vapor, and ultraviolet-B radiation in three...
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