Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports that ozone may be harming soil's ability to absorb carbon.
[SCIENCE NOTE THEME]
GRABER: The air pollutant ozone is known to harm human health and be toxic to plants. Now, it looks like ozone can also damage soil.
Researchers in Michigan conducted an experiment on two groups of forests. One was sprayed with carbon dioxide. The other got a mix of carbon dioxide and ozone. In the stand of trees exposed to both carbon dioxide and ozone, the ozone reduced the ability of the soil to capture and store carbon dioxide by half.
That’s significant because some scientists say the increase in carbon dioxide from greenhouse gas emissions can be lessened if absorbed by forests. But according to this new research, plants and soils that live in areas with high levels of ozone may be significantly less able to clean the air of CO2.
In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects against ultraviolet radiation. But ground-level ozone forms as the result of a reaction between chemicals from burning fossil fuels and from industrial processes and sunlight and warm temperatures. It’s found at high levels in many parts of the U.S. and around the world. Given the new research, nations may have to re-evaluate their strategies to combat global warming. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Cynthia Graber.
[MUSIC: Mu-Ziq “Brace Yourself Jason” LUNATIC HARNESS (Astralwerks - 1997)]
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