Scientists analyzed data on the amount of ozone in Antarctica over 25 years and found that concentrations at the ground have increased due to natural and anthropogenic factors.
Ozone gas has a strong or pungent odor. It is formed when sunlight reacts with gases from industrial and transport activities, combustion of biomass, or gases from microorganisms.
Most of the ozone is located at an altitude of about 30 km above the Earth in the ozone layer. Recall that this is a part of the stratosphere at an altitude of 20 to 40 km, with the highest concentration of ozone formed as a result of the action of UV radiation from the Sun on molecular oxygen.
As you know, the ozone layer protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. But, at the same time, ozone in the lower atmosphere, or troposphere, is harmful and respiratory diseases.
In addition, the molecule captures heat 1,000 times better than carbon dioxide and therefore has a huge impact on global warming. Previous studies have shown an increase in tropospheric ozone across the Southern Hemisphere, but regional studies for the remote Antarctic continent have not been conducted for a long time. In the new work, scientists have identified where ozone comes from in Antarctica and how its levels change over time.
The researchers collected data from 1992 to 2018 at ground level as well as in the lower atmosphere to the ozone layer at eight stations across Antarctica. Their analysis showed that in December, January and February there was the least amount of ozone in the entire troposphere. Recall that these months correspond to summer in the Southern Hemisphere. During this period, the sun’s rays are most active in breaking down ozone.
The study showed that over 25 years in the troposphere over Antarctica, ozone accumulated as a result of migration from the stratosphere, where more than 90% of all atmospheric ozone is concentrated, and was formed in the surface layer from natural and anthropogenic sources.
Scientists say their study is a “warning” of increasing ozone concentrations in Antarctica. Because of ozone’s ability to trap heat near the Earth’s surface, the upward trend could have negative consequences for the region in the future, the researchers say.