According to a recent research, smoke from wildfires depletes the ozone layer. Researchers warn that if catastrophic fires become more common as a result of climate change, more harmful UV light from the sun would reach the earth.
Smoke from the Australian wildfires of 2019 and 2020 damaged atmospheric ozone in the Southern Hemisphere for months, according to atmospheric chemists at the University of Waterloo. The ozone shield is a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere’s stratosphere that absorbs UV radiation from the sun.
The researchers measured the impact of smoke particles in the stratosphere using data from the Canadian Space Agency’s Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) satellite. The findings were published in the journal Science.
“The Australian fires pushed acidic smoke particles into the stratosphere, altering the chlorine, hydrogen, and nitrogen chemistry that regulates ozone,” said Peter Bernath, research professor in the Department of Chemistry at Waterloo and the study’s primary author. “This is the first large-scale measurement of smoke that demonstrates it transforming these ozone-regulating molecules into more reactive compounds that destroy ozone.”
This harm, like the holes above polar areas, is only temporary, and ozone levels restored to pre-wildfire levels after the smoke cleared the stratosphere. However, if wildfires become more common, the devastation will become more frequent.
“The ACE satellite is a one-of-a-kind mission that has collected data on atmospheric composition for almost 18 years in a row. ACE measures a vast number of molecules to provide a more comprehensive picture of what is going on in our atmosphere “Bernath said the following. “Because models can’t yet mimic air smoke chemistry, our data give a unique look at chemistry that hasn’t been seen before.”
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