The significant impact of the ozone layer on global warming is a lesser known fact

A lesser-known type of ozone may play an important role in warming the Southern Ocean, one of Earth’s main cooling systems, according to a new study.

Fluctuations in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmospheres were responsible for about a third of the observed warming in ocean waters adjacent to Antarctica in the second half of the 20th century, according to new research.

Ozone in the Southern Ocean

(Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)


Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Many types of research have been conducted to study ozone in the stratosphere and its function in protecting people from harmful UV rays from the sun.

Ozone is harmful to people in the troposphere, which is closer to ground level.

According to a new study led by researchers at UC Riverside, this relatively low level ozone provides much more heat to the Southern Ocean than scientists previously thought.

“People haven’t paid much attention to ground-level ozone in terms of ocean heat absorption in the past, but according to our models, they should,” Wei Liu said. , lead author of the new study and a UCR climatologist.

The oceans absorb most of the carbon and heat that people emit into the atmosphere when they burn fossil fuels.

The Southern Ocean, commonly known as the Antarctic Ocean, collects a third of all additional carbon in the global atmosphere, as well as about 75% of all excess heat collected by the world’s seas, according to ScienceDaily.

It is essential to understand this heat in order to regulate it.

Increased ocean warming contributes to the well-documented problem of sea level rise.

Liu and an international group of specialists studied weather simulation studies using variations in ozone concentrations between 1955 and 2000 to advance this knowledge.

These climate models separated stratospheric and tropospheric ozone from other impacts on Southern Ocean temperatures, allowing them to examine how each component affects temperatures.

Although stratospheric and tropospheric ozone influence the warming of the Southern Ocean, researchers have found that the latter contributes much more.

Read also : New research reveals ozone gas is heating the Earth more than we previously thought

Antarctica’s Response to Ozone Layer Depletion

Sea ice in particular comprises much of the ocean surface in the polar regions, helps regulate global temperatures by reflecting incoming solar energy.

Reducing sea ice cover is therefore expected to increase greenhouse gas-induced global warming.

The evolution of sea ice also has an impact on the energy exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere, the absorption of carbon by the ocean, the ecosystems and the thermohaline ocean circulation.

Constant satellite data, which began in the late 1970s, shows that Arctic sea ice has shrunk considerably over the satellite period, which is consistent with the global warming trend.

In contrast, small but increasing trends were recorded in the southern hemisphere, particularly between 1979 and 2014.

Furthermore, while climate models can largely recreate the reported declines in Arctic sea ice, the majority of them do not reflect the increase in Antarctic sea ice from 1979 to 2014.

“For more than a decade, climatologists have been confused by the observed extent of Antarctic sea ice and the inadequacy of observational models,” said lead author Eui-Seok Chung of the Korea Polar Research Institute, according to Phys.org.

It is essential to track long-term changes in global sea ice and to verify that the physical mechanisms driving these changes are correctly represented in climate estimation techniques.

Related article: Scientists show the ozone layer was damaged by smoke from Australia’s wildfires in 2019 and 2020

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