A newly published study notes that ozone pollution has risen over the past 20 years in the Northern Hemisphere.

The research, published in Science Advances, notes the level of the greenhouse gas tropospheric ozone (different from the ozone layer) has risen to “very high levels” between 2011 and 2016, up significantly between 1994 and 2004.

“That’s a big deal because it means that as we try to limit our pollution locally, it might not work as well as we thought,” said the study’s lead author, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder researcher Audrey Gaudel, in a statement.

IAGOS makes global observations of atmospheric composition from commercial aircraft. Between 1994 and 2020, IAGOS collected measurements on more than 62,000 flights worldwide.  (Credit: IAGOS)

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The data, which was collected by commercial aircraft, showed “the most striking increases” were found in areas where levels of the greenhouse gas used to be the lowest: Malaysia/Indonesia, Southeast Asia and India.

“The net result of shifting anthropogenic ozone precursor emissions has led to an increase of ozone and its radiative forcing above all 11 study regions of the Northern Hemisphere, despite [nitrogen oxides] emission reductions at midlatitudes,” the researchers added in the study’s abstract.

In all, 34,600 ozone profiles were taken from the 11 different locations. Nitrogen oxides, which are caused by human activity, such as factories and auto emissions, have dropped in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gaudel added that previous studies were unable to draw conclusions about ozone trends in the Northern Hemisphere because there were not enough long-term monitoring locations and conflicting results from new satellites.

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“Since 1994, IAGOS [In-Service Aircraft for the Global Observing System] has measured ozone worldwide using the same instrument on every plane, giving us consistent measurements over time and space from Earth’s surface to the upper troposphere,” Gaudel explained.

Gaudel and the other researchers hope to conduct further research to look at the ozone levels “in more remote, less polluted regions including the tropics,” using additional data from a European Space Agency satellite to get more information.

“We want to understand the variability of ozone and its precursors and the impact of polluted regions on remote regions,” Gaudel stated. “So we’re using the best tools we have, including IAGOS, ATom data, and TROPOMI data, to get profiles and columns of ozone and its precursors from different kinds of human activities and natural sources.”

Skeptics have largely dismissed fears over man’s impact on global warming, saying climate change has been going on since the beginning of time.

They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.

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