By Katie Langford
BOULDER » A new study by University of Colorado and Boulder researchers found that ozone pollution in Antarctica has been rising over the past three decades, raising concerns that it could have a “profound impact” on the climate of the region.
Three scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in 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, it was 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 been on the rise.
Although ozone in the upper atmosphere protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation, 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 Kharagpur, used modeling to find that the rise could be linked to humancaused pollution on nearby continents as well as moving from the upper atmosphere.
The information is notable because with its remote location, Antarctica has some of the cleanest air in the world, coauthor and NOAA scientist Bryan Johnson said.
“It’s so remote that you’re able to see what’s going on globally, as opposed to if you’re trying to determine what’s happening in the middle of a city, where it’s changing daily or seasonally based on conditions,” he said.