Ozone Hole Affecting Southern Hemispheres Climate

A new study has for the first time shown a direct link between the ozone hole which rests over Antarctica and climate change in the entire Southern Hemisphere.

The research, conducted by scientists from the University of Columbia, and was published in the April 21 issue of the journal Science, shows that the ozone hole has affected the entire circulation of the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the equator and is able to increase rainfall at low latitudes.

“The ozone hole is not even mentioned in the summary for policymakers issued with the last IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report,” noted Lorenzo Polvani, professor of Applied Mathematics and of Earth & Environmental Sciences, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and co-author of the paper. “We show in this study that it has large and far-reaching impacts. The ozone hole is a big player in the climate system!”

“It’s really amazing that the ozone hole, located so high up in the atmosphere over Antarctica, can have an impact all the way to the tropics and affect rainfall there — it’s just like a domino effect,” said Sarah Kang, postdoctoral research scientist in Columbia Engineering’s Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and lead author of the paper.

Kang and Polvani’s research suggests that the ozone hole is now the dominant agent of atmospheric circulation changes in the Southern Hemisphere throughout the last 50 years.

“This could be a real game-changer,” Polvani added, noting that the international agreements to mitigate climate change must now also start to address ozone as a potential problem. “While the ozone hole has been considered as a solved problem, we’re now finding it has caused a great deal of the climate change that’s been observed.”

Kang and Polvani plan to continue their research into the ozone hole, specifically its effect on extreme precipitation events. “We really want to know,” said Kang, “if and how the closing of the ozone hole will affect these.”

Source: University of Columbia

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