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Category — Ozone

Ozone rise will choke US cities

Tim Radford


Blurred vision: smog shrouds the skyline of Los Angeles. Image: Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons

Poor air quality and health problems will become the summertime norm throughout the US as scientists predict a 70% rise in ground-level ozone − unless action is taken to cut emissions

Stand by for long, hot North American summers of smarting eyes, tickling throats, asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. And crops could also suffer, because ground-level ozone pollution is likely to increase in the US.

Gabriele Pfister, an atmospheric scientist at the US National Center for Atmosphere Research in Colorado, and research colleagues report in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres that Americans face a rise of 70% in summertime ozone levels by 2050.

Ozone is a form of oxygen that, in the stratosphere, protects life by absorbing dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but at ground level it is a serious component of air pollution and urban smog.

Rising temperatures, and the attendant growth of short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane and oxides of nitrogen, could turn local atmospheres into a photochemical crucible that will spur a cascade of chemical reactions and lead to higher incidence of ground-level ozone. [Read more →]

May 19, 2014   No Comments