A new study by an international team - led by the University of Reading - shows that ozone has an important role in climate change and global warming by weakening one of the Earth's cooling mechanisms.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change on March 31, revealed that changes in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere were responsible for nearly a third of the warming seen in the ocean waters bordering Antarctica. , in the second half of the twentieth century.

Changes in ozone levels have weakened the natural cooling mechanism of the Southern Ocean (Shutterstock)

Ozone level changes

According to a report published by the British newspaper "Daily Mail", the study revealed changes in ozone levels in two layers of the Earth's atmosphere.

In the troposphere (the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere), ozone increased, which is bad news - according to the Daily Mail - because it acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping long-wave radiation, and thus leads to a rise in the Earth's temperature, and in return we also find that a decrease in the level of Ozone has occurred in the stratosphere (the next layer of the troposphere), because it is in this layer that it protects the Earth from ultraviolet rays from the sun.

According to the study, each of these changes in the levels of ozone in the upper and lower atmospheric layers has weakened the natural cooling mechanism of the Southern Ocean, and thus contributed to the warming of the planet. The Southern Ocean contributes to the circulation of the oceans, and works to transfer heat from the equator to The poles, causing the global cooling of our planet.

Dr Michaela Heglin, Associate Professor at the University of Reading and one of the study's authors said: "The ocean is absorbing excess heat from the Earth's system, balancing the excess heat from rising global temperatures. As the Earth's surface warms due to increased greenhouse gases, the water in the ocean absorbs energy ( heat) and distributes it evenly across the planet.

Changing ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere are responsible for a third of ocean warming (websites)

Simulation of changes in ozone levels

To reach these results, the research team used models to simulate changes in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere between 1955 and 2000, to isolate it from other influences and increase understanding of its impact on Southern Ocean heat absorption, according to the university's press release.

These simulations showed that the decrease in ozone in the upper atmosphere and the increase in the lower atmosphere both contributed to the observed warming in 2 km of high-latitude ocean water, through the overall increases in greenhouse gases.

The simulations also revealed that increased ozone in the lower atmosphere caused 60% of the total ozone-induced warming seen in the Southern Ocean during the period (1955 to 2000), much more than previously thought.

The researchers also found that changes in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere were responsible for 30% of the warming seen in the ocean waters bordering Antarctica in the second half of the twentieth century. It is essential that it has a climatic impact in the northern hemisphere, because that is where the main pollution occurs.

Ozone made headlines in the 1980s when a hole in the ozone layer was discovered (Shutterstock)

Ozone damage and benefits

Ozone (O3), as it is known, is a gas consisting of 3 oxygen atoms that are naturally formed in small quantities.

It is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds present in exhaust fumes in the presence of sunlight.

At ground level, ozone can cause health problems for vulnerable people with lung diseases such as asthma.

On the other hand, farther in the atmosphere, specifically in the stratosphere above the Earth's surface, ozone is beneficial to us. The ozone layer is in the stratosphere, a thin region that absorbs almost all of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays;

Without the ozone layer, there would be extreme increases in solar UV radiation, which would damage our DNA and make skin cancer more common.

Ozone made headlines in the 1980s when a hole was discovered in the ozone layer high in the atmosphere over Antarctica, caused by damage from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a gas used in industry and consumer products.

The discovery of this ozone hole led to the creation of the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to halt production of CFCs.

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