Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ozone pollution contributes to climate change

Ozone pollution is not just one of the most serious forms of air pollution, but it can also contribute to climate change impact. Pollutants that cause the creation of ozone are nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that mostly come from our cars, and once these pollutants enter the atmosphere they create ozone, a potent greenhouse gas.

Ozone pollution has been pretty much overlooked when talking about the climate change, but its impact cannot be underestimated. This is because too much ozone in atmosphere can seriously damage plants, making them less effective at photosynthesizing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground, which can lead to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

What this means is that ozone pollution doesn't have a direct impact on climate change, but can still give significant impact to global warming by preventing plants to effectively take CO2 from the atmosphere.

The damaging effect that ozone has on plants has been well known but science hasn't up to now talked about the connection between the climate change and ozone pollution. Dr Bill Collins of the Met Office Hadley Centre and his research team have proved this connection by running a a sequence of models to predict the effects of three ozone pollutants –nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) – on the Earth's temperature.

The scientists discovered that different pollutants have different effects over time, and for instance CO2 lasts for a very long time in the atmosphere while on the other hand ozone has much shorter lifespan, and its effects do not last very long in the atmosphere.

However, even this shorter lifespan can create serious damage to plants, and this is the main reason why climate change models should also include the ozone plant damage into their calculations.

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