According to a new study, smoke from wildfires can destroy the ozone layer. The researchers said if major fires become more frequent with a changing climate, more damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun will reach the ground. The research results were published in the journal “Science”.
The ozone shield is a part of the stratospheric layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs UV rays from the sun. The researchers used data from the Canadian Space Agency’s Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) satellite to measure the effects of smoke particles in the stratosphere.
“Australia’s fires injected acidic smoke particles into the stratosphere, disrupting the chemistry of chlorine, hydrogen and nitrogen that regulate ozone,” said Peter Bernath, research professor in the Department of Chemistry at Waterloo and lead author of this study. “This is the first major measurement of smoke, which shows that it converts these ozone-regulating compounds into more reactive compounds that destroy ozone,” he added.
Similar to the holes over the polar regions, this damage is a temporary effect and ozone levels returned to pre-wildfire levels once the smoke cleared the stratosphere. But an increase in the prevalence of forest fires would mean destruction is happening more often. “The ACE satellite is a unique mission with over 18 continuous years of atmospheric composition data. ACE measures a large collection of molecules to give a better and more complete picture of what is happening in our atmosphere,” Bernath said.
“Models cannot yet replicate the chemistry of atmospheric smoke, so our measurements offer unique insight into chemistry never seen before,” he concluded. (ANI)
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