Lesser known ozone layer’s outsized role in planet warming

Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Many studies have described ozone in the stratosphere, and its role in shielding people from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Closer to ground level, in the troposphere, ozone is harmful to humans.

New research led by UC Riverside scientists reveals this lower level ozone is adding a great deal of heat to the Southern Ocean — more than scientists previously understood.

This finding has now been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Oceans remove a majority of the carbon and heat that enter the atmosphere when humans burn fossil fuels. The Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean, collects a third of all excess carbon in the world’s atmosphere, and an estimated 75% of the excess heat collected by the world’s oceans.

Historically, about a third of the ocean’s warming is attributable to ozone. For this third, about 40% is from the stratosphere, and the rest is troposphere.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from products like pesticides, tobacco smoke and automobiles are gases that form the building blocks of tropospheric ozone. The same is true

— source University of California – Riverside | Apr 22, 2022

Nullius in verba


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