Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Connection between ozone hole and climate change

Today the climate change is considered as the biggest environmental threat but not so long ago big ozone hole over Antarctic was considered the biggest environmental threat. Currently, the ozone hole is steadily closing, and according to scientists at the University of Leeds this could in fact increase the impact of climate change into the southern atmosphere.

Surprisingly it looks like ozone hole actually protected southern hemisphere from much bigger climate change impact. According to British scientists high-speed winds in the area beneath the ozone hole have led to the formation of brighter summertime clouds, which reflect more of the sun's powerful rays, reflecting the sun's heat away from the surface. As the result of this the warming from rising carbon emissions has effectively been canceled out in this region during the summertime.

As the ozone hole is steadily closing these winds are also decreasing in power, and therefore rising CO2 emissions could cause significantly faster warming of the southern hemisphere.

The main ingredient in this newly found connection between climate change and ozone hole are tiny particles known as aerosols. Greenhouses gases responsible for climate change problem absorb infrared radiation from the Earth and release it back into the atmosphere as heat, causing the planet to warm up over certain period of time. Aerosols on the other hand work against this by reflecting heat from the sun back into space, cooling the planet in the process.

As the ozone hole disappears so do aerosols, and southern atmosphere could soon experience much accelerating rate of warming. It will be very interesting to learn more about these aerosols, and whether science could use them as the tool against the climate change.