A new study co-authored by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Boulder found that ozone pollution in Antarctica has increased over the past three decades, raising concerns that it may have a “profound impact” on the region’s climate.
Three scientists from the Cooperative Research Institute of Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided ozone data from the South Pole research station for the study.
While the team often focuses on the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, they were able to provide data from the lower atmosphere, or troposphere, which was used in the new study.
The study used data from eight research stations across Antarctica to determine that for more than 26 years, from 1992 to 2018, surface ozone has increased.
Although ozone in the upper atmosphere protects the earth from ultraviolet rays, ozone in the lower atmosphere is an air pollutant that harms human health and the environment.
The study, led by Pankaj Kumar of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, used the modeling to find that the increase could be linked to human-made pollution on neighboring continents as well as the displacement of high atmosphere.
The information is remarkable because with its remote location, Antarctica looks the purest in the world, said co-author and NOAA scientist Bryan Johnson.
“It’s so far away that you can see what’s going on in the world, as opposed to trying to figure out what’s going on in the middle of a city, where it changes daily or seasonally depending on conditions,” he said. he declared.
âIt’s something that you want to monitor and apply statistical tools and analysis to see how it plays out, rather than having a big surprise down the line,â Johnson added.
The South Pole station sends small weather balloons, or probes, from the ground up to 18 miles above the Earth to collect information on ozone levels.
âThis is the very first study to be done in this remote location, so we are very happy that our data has been used successfully,â said co-author and scientist Irina Petropavlovskikh, CIRES. âWe are still reviewing our day-to-day data and are very focused on the quality and performance of the instruments, but looking at long-term changes like this is exactly what will help us understand how ozone levels change. over Antarctica. “
The data could inform the team’s work on upper atmosphere ozone, Petropavlovskikh said.
âAll of these pieces, when they come together, that’s how we learn about the past and then look to the future of ozone charging,â she said.